Blessing Johnson is a lady motor mechanic who repairs all brands of automobiles. She has differed the widely held notion that being a mechanic is a thing for only male folks. ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM reports.
The popular saying that ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better’ can present a reality of how lots of women have continued to show their men counterparts that they are a force to reckon with in the society.
Apart from Sandra Aguebor, considered to be the first female mechanic in the country,who is now founder of the Lady Mechanic Initiative (LMI) and the CEO of Sandex Car Care Garage, who has been a mechanic for 30 years, only a handful of females can venture into the professional but lucrative job, without any thought of deviating into other ventures.
Against the will of her mother who thought it was shameful for a woman to be a mechanic, Sandra had started training to be a mechanic at the age of fourteen.Incidentally, her father was supportive of the pursuit because he had been out of the country a couple of times, saw many female aeronautic engineers and settled that there was no reason why his daughter could not be an automobile mechanic, if she wanted to.
One day, her father took her to the workshop where he used to fix his car and fatefully, as soon as they had arrived the workshop, Sandra immediately fell in love with a dismantled vehicle engine and refused to leave. Thus, began her training. Although she was still in secondary school, she would everyday, leave for her mechanic training after school hours. And that was how she started off to become known in the industry.
Today, the story of Sandra is similar to that of Blessing Johnson, a proud lady mechanic, who plys her trade at Conoil Petrol Station, located along the Lugbe-Airport road in Abuja. Her story is more of pains, travails and lack of support from peers to accompany her aspiration to becoming a successful lady mechanic.
Dropped out of school after completing secondary education at teen, Blessing Johnson refused to storm the streets cap in hand to beg for money to fend. Automobile mechanic to her was the only alternative she had and coupled with the reason that she vehemently refused any twist of fate.
Taking a mere look at the lady brings to mind the picture of someone who is notoriously passionate about a profession and who will certainly want to make a big mark. She has a mien appearance that looks gorgeous and calm to attract any reasonable man.
Her dark colored skin can only be likened to a top model of Ebony contest but Blessing has blatantly refused that all these beauty attributes should distract the pursuit of her dream. At the moment, Blessing is yet to marry but seriously engaged in a relationship.
Ever since the photograph of Blessing surfaced on the web recently, it has been help from close friends and customers who always sought her contact because the man who snapped and posted the picture on social media only did out of amazement. The poster had wondered that a lady could be very genius and patient to learn the job that even the men are finding it difficult to perfect in it.
Blessing is from Delta state of Nigeria. She began her mechanic career since 2007 when she completed her secondary school education in Edo state. Ofcourse, there was no one to sponsor her education but her determination to not idle at home immediately drove her quest into becoming a mechanic.
From the initial state, the passion was not there with her but, according to her, it was the only alternative she had to keep hope alive. Because she wanted to do something lucrative to raise money to enable her further her education.
Blessing Joseph didn’t learn her trade from a famous company but from a private teacher who owned a mechanic workshop in a garage in Edo state.
According to her, they were seven boys and two girls where she did apprenticeship for five years. Serving with her master, people were happy seen her because they felt instead of her going into other vices like prostitution that most girls would, she decided to do what many have never thought of doing.
What will seriously intrigue anybody who visits her workshop for the first time is that many motorists who brings their vehicles for repair prefers her magical touch. Despite being a woman, both male and female customers throng to the place, some to catch a glimpse of her while others simply to render support.
In her encounter with our correspondent, Blessing revealed that she has no intention to leave the job for any other venture, rather, she will prefer to grow in it and become an icon in the industry.
“No I didn’t have the passion of being a mechanic when I finished my secondary school, but there was no money to further my education, so I decided to learn something and the only option I found was mechanic and it’s been good ever since,” Blessing said.
Blessing revealed that her parents were against her becoming a lady mechanic because to them, they believed that it was a man’s job.
According to her, “they said that I wasn’t supposed to go for this job because it is meant for men and not for women. I had to insist that as a woman, if you have the zeal, you can do it very well even more than the men and so they (family)agreed.”
Asides other challenges she is facing, Blessing said whenever customers visit her shop and they see a lady, they are always in awe seeing her and sometimes, would without any hesitation want her services.
“They are surprised seeing a woman but I also tell them not to worry that I will fix their cars perfectly and when they allow me do it, they are always happy. Their reactions are good and they like the service I’m rendering to them. People felt good because they haven’t seen a woman learning the job before and because they feel the work is just for men alone. But they say if I could learn it for 4-5-years, I will be very good in it,” She said.
Continuing she noted, “if you think Blessing is all about work, you must be joking because she is yet to marry and has a fiancé and we are very much in love with each other even though he first disagreed that I become a mechanic.
“When I told my fiancé I want to do this job, he disagreed and said the job was very dirty, we always had misunderstandings when I dress for work, but I was determined. When I graduated where I was learning, I was the best amongst us. So he had no choice than to start supporting me,” she explained.
Blessing further revealed that she sees a brighter future ahead of her because she’s saving some money to in a nearby time, commission her own garage so she could be able to train other ladies who may want to be like her.
On how much she earns, Blessing however, said funnily that with the little money she gets daily, she could be able to at least feed her family and also support herself academically. She hinted that she had sat for the last NABTEB examination but she didn’t pass some of the subjects she wanted.
Like any other person who is not ready and willing to idle around, Blessing has had travails in the course of discharging her duties but she has certainly remained steadfast, very committed to becoming an icon to turn things for the automobile industry. Among many issues, she is calling on government and other private individuals to help her achieve her dreams.
In her words: “I will like government and other individuals to assist me to have a garage and have good equipments so that I can train other ladies. I also learnt hairdressing before I went into mechanic, but the love I have for this job cannot be compared to hairdressing. I just want to make a difference among other ladies.They should go for what their mind tells them to do, they shouldn’t be scared or ashamed,” she concluded.