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Motorbikes and Ouagadougou’s ladies: a journey to freedom

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In Burkina Faso’s capital, many experience their bikes daily to commute, go to high school or transfer across the metropolis.

In 2020, practically one Burkinabe in seven owned a bike.

the automobile can be a device of emanci’pation, For ladies like Valérie Dambré

“This defines the Burkinabe lady, the braveness of girls. The truth is, using a bike calls for braveness,” the motorist.

When Nigerian filmmaker Kagho Idhebor first got here to Ouagadougou he was blown away by what number of ladies whizzed about on bikes. A lot in order that he directed “Burkina Babes”, a documentary on that. It even ran at Africa’s largest movie the FESPACO, the pan-African cinema and TV pageant of Ouagadougou.

“I’ve been to couple of components of the world and even in Nigeria you see lots of bikes, guys driving bikes however I’ve not seen ladies within the final nation driving bikes with a lot perspective and really unbiased and that captivated me, like I used to be blown away!,” the person in his thirties exlaims.

Since 1977, the Girls’s Faculty for Abilities Initiation and Coaching is predicated in Ouagadougou. It has skilled over 700 ladies to be mechanics and bodywork repairers.


“Within the coastal international locations (in West Africa), folks went straight to automobiles” from strolling or utilizing bicycles, stated anthropologist Jocelyne Vokouma. “However we (in Burkina) turned to motorbikes earlier than utilizing automobiles.”

The important thing interval of change was the early Nineties, she stated.

Till then, “a girl would proudly say that her bike had been purchased by her husband. ‘My husband is doing OK,’ was what ladies used to say,” Vokouma revealed.

However the nation went by way of wrenching austerity and plenty of males misplaced their jobs.

Girls then picked up the baton, organising small companies akin to promoting fruit and greens to earn cash — and as time progressed, many used their financial savings to swap their bicycle for a bike.

With that got here higher freedom, in growing their enterprise, taking the kids to high school, seeing mates or simply going out for a experience.

However, stated Vokouma, some essential seeds had already been sown by Burkina Faso’s revolutionary chief, Thomas Sankara.

Throughout his 4 years in energy within the Nineteen Eighties, which ended traumatically along with his assassination, Sankara “performed an emancipating function, breaking down conventional mindsets and thrusting ladies into the general public house, outdoors the house,” she stated. “Younger ladies as we speak have been introduced up on his concepts.”


With the mobility ladies gained, got here an entry for them into the male-dominated enterprise of auto upkeep. However prejudice endures.

“You see males who do that, different males attempt to discourage you, they are saying: “You, lady, why do you come right here to do that, it is a man’s job, why do you come right here, your house is within the kitchen, within the workplace”, however why not me too? I can do higher than that, sure.”

“I used to be pushed by the promising trades have been poorly distributed between women and men,” says college founder and CEO Bernard Zongo.

“So we needed to work to get ladies into non-traditional trades in order to make sure that ladies have been additionally economically autonomous.”

He employed a full-time lady psychologist and put in a nursery for college students with infants.

The 2-year course prices 100,000 CFA francs ($163), a hefty sum in a rustic the place annual per-capita revenue is little greater than $900.

Along with the charges, the centre will get by by way of donations from NGOs, which account for 75 p.c of income.

Different African international locations, together with Niger, Ivory Coast and Mali have despatched representatives to the CFIAM to see the way it operates, and “boys are asking to enrol,” Zongo stated with a smile.

“There are folks we all know who’re jealous of us,” stated one scholar, Salamata Congo, talking above a racket of reducing and hammering.