Breaking Barriers: Nzisa’s journey to becoming a mechanic

Margaret Nzisa, who works at her brother's garage. PHOTO/Janet Kiriswo, Scholar Media Africa.
Margaret Nzisa, who works at her brother's garage. PHOTO/Janet Kiriswo, Scholar Media Africa.
  • She currently works for her brother.
  • She has, over time, become a mechanic.
  • Nzisa urges all women to do any job, without being too choosy.
  • Her dream is to own her garage.

Ten years ago, after traveling across various counties in Kenya, Nzisa did not know what lay ahead of her and her three children. 

Running away from hunger and unfruitful farming experience, she decided to follow her brother’s wish for her to have a better future.

In 2013, Margaret Nzisa, hailing from Machakos county, landed in Eldama Ravine sub-county in Baringo county. 

She came to work for her brother, who owns a mechanic and a tyre selling shop in the middle of Eldama Ravine town.

Adapting to the environs

Having no experience in what she came for, she started by assisting him as a cashier. 

Unfortunately, her settling in was not without a climate change bite. Nzisa says she got under the weather for a better part of her stay as a newcomer in town. 

Battling malaria and adjusting to the rather cold weather was a baptism by fire to her.

Nzisa would later blend in after a while. 

Starting off

From being a farmer to a cashier was a break and a rather smooth job that, according to her, gave her enough time to study her environment. 

Strange at first, but she started gaining interest in what the mechanics were doing: from repairing the clients’ broken vehicles to changing tyres and even mending tubes.

Beyond handling money

After a while, she started testing her potential by getting involved in not only money handling but started helping out at the garage. 

Nzisa at the tyre store. She has mastered the art of repairing old tyres for re-selling. PHOTO/Janet Kiriswo, Scholar Media Africa.
Nzisa at the tyre store. She has mastered the art of repairing old tyres for re-selling. PHOTO/Janet Kiriswo, Scholar Media Africa.

She would normally be seen getting her hands dirty around the garage.

Passersby would stop and gaze at her, confirming that they actually have seen a woman doing an unusual job, something unheard of in the area.

Though gender is no longer a limitation to whatever chores men or women can do, it is still strange in a cultural set–up, especially in Baringo county, where women are cultured to be at home minding their family affairs or at work in white color settings, or running other businesses but not what Nzisa is doing.

It is only now that a few women are embracing courses men would be allowed to. 

In different learning institutions, including vocational colleges like Eldama Ravine Vocational College, ladies have enrolled in mechanical courses that include handling farm machineries, such as driving tractors and other modern heavy farm machinery. 

Nzisa has mastered her craft over the years and says her brother has been satisfied with the quality of her services, which has increased his customers.

Wamunyu Tiers is the business name that has now grown its influence to different places within Baringo county. 

This is evident by the increasing referrals the business has registered from places like Esageri, Kabimoi, Mumberes, Poror, and Sigoro, among others places. 

Nzisa says these customers have options of other mechanics along the various centers but choose to look for her service.

Kila mtu huja hapa akisema anataka mama (every customer comes saying they need mama to serve them) and that is how I have grown,” she says. 

Her major daily chores, she says, are backbreaking, but the rewards are enormous. 

Having migrated with her family as a single mother, she has been able to educate her children. 

A typical day at the garage

Her days are unpredictable as clients come with different needs and punctures, most of which are tyre repairs and pressure filling.

Having a queue of vehicles congesting the garage for services, she says getting a break is rare as most of the time, if it is not about the lined-up vehicles, it is about repairing the second-hand tubes for reselling. 

Pricing the tyres

Already aware of the vast tyre brands, she says the value of the tyres she sells varies with the brand. 

Apart from Yana tyres which are the heaviest, the various brands have different prices. 

For a tractor tyre she sells a second hand from KSh5000 to KSh6000; its tubes cost between KSh1500 and KSh2000, with rims going for about KSh 3500 and above depending on the vehicle.

She has embraced the job and also become a mechanic. PHOTO/Janet Kiriswo, Scholar Media Africa.
She has embraced the job and also become a mechanic. PHOTO/Janet Kiriswo, Scholar Media Africa.

Nzisa has gotten used to her new passion such that she knows what pressure is required in the various tyres off-head. 

“Before, I did not know how to do this but now I can do it myself. For instance, I can tell you what pressure is fit for which tyres,” she says.

Nzisa says her quick quality service will determine how much she makes a day. 

She is expectant of many tractor tyre repairs this rainy season, most of which take her only 30 minutes per tyre, and her price is pocket friendly.

To other ladies

Her call to the ladies is that there is no job too hard or classy to do. This is after so many ladies asked her to help look out for any job opportunities, as they do not refer to what she does.

Her brother recently employed a qualified lady mechanic who is also adjusting to her new job. 

The new lady mechanic studied at Emining Vocational College and is well-skilled. 

“Ladies are requesting I look for opportunities for them, but not like mine. I thank God that now I have a fellow lady we can share as we go by our work,” she explained.

Starting her business

Nzisa says she dreams of getting someone to support her in starting her own business, just like her brother.

“I would make it even bigger because now I have learned how to do it. I thank my brother for believing in me,” she asserts.

With the current economic situation in Kenya, it is no longer strange to have women venturing into rather masculine-related jobs, including Nzisa’s, brick making, stone breaking and shaping and even driving heavy trucks, to name but a few, to make ends meet.

All it takes is understanding why one would do it anyway and its benefits.

So far, life has proven that no human is limited and everyone’s dreams are valid, and most of it all is that in nature, a woman would always do what she can do to ensure her children are well.

A go-to

Wamunyu Tryes remains a go-to because of the fine touch of the soft hardened hands that work magic for clients. 

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Its doors are open all day apart from Sundays. 

The business is located near Eldama Ravine Garden square. While it is not always true that the grass is greener on the side, for her, it literally is.

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Janet Kiriswo is A Multi-lingual certified professional Journalist (English, Swahili and Native Kalenjin) with over 12 years active experience in the media industry. She thrives in covering stories matters that touches on Business, Health, community, Culture and Traditional issues and progress, Politics, Interviews and leaderships among others. She poses other skills in Public Relationship, Communication consultant, Radio presentation, broadcasting, visual feature stories, video/voice recording and editing among others. She strongly believes in changing the world through Communication.


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