Women continue to defy odds and change the narrative. The following story is about how a widow, Imelda Mbambu from Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, is earning a living through driving a motorbike taxi.
Many women struggle after losing a spouse whom they depended on financially. But for Mbambu, who was once a farmer, losing her husband 10 years ago led to a turnaround in her life.
She had to find new ways of taking care of her six children and ended up investing her savings into buying a motorbike. A woman riding a motorbike is considered unconventional, not to talk of using it to commute passengers. Nevertheless, Mbambu is making a living out of it.
Riding a motorbike has not only earned Mbambu a living. She recalls a time when her motorbike saved her life.
“One time I was driving from the countryside when I was ambushed by bandits. They were dressed in red blood-stained clothes and wanted to harm me, but when they noticed that I was a woman on a motorbike, they got very surprised and urged me to go on with my journey,” she said to U.S News.
DRC is considered to be one of the 10 most dangerous countries to live in as a woman, according to a 2018 poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation. Additionally, the east side of the country (where Beni is also located) had a 34% spike in sexual violence cases in 2019, as reported by the United Nations. For Mbambu to be riding a motorbike taxi in such an environment is a risk on its own, one which she is willing to take for her six children.
Mbambu now has regular and loyal clients, especially women who prefer her services. She is a famous “boda” rider in the city of Beni. With her job, she has managed to put food on the table, clothe and send her children to school.
A certain author once said, “When life throws you a curve, take it.” That is exactly what Mbambu is doing both in her life and on the road. So should we.
Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde is a journalist passionate about gender equality, social development programmes and grassroots-based solution seeking initiatives. She has a passion for women and community development. Phoebie is also a radio personality at a regional commercial radio station, a platform that enables her to network with like-minded women, journalists and activists as she continues to document and tell the story of the ordinary woman from the lens of that very ordinary woman.