Wearing green and white uniform, displaying a badge of a local church, Margret Wangari, goes about sampling coffins at a well-known dealer’s shop in Nyahururu.
She is particular on this very order; two white coffins, fit for adults, a couple who had passed on after a short illness.
She checks the firmness of the well-finished coffins, the sponge lining is intact and fit for sending off these love birds. The golden inscription on the two brown crosses are precise and accurate.
She is certain that the glowing wreaths would warm the gloomy faces of the bereaved. She then takes a deep breathe, gasping for air.
She clears the consignment for a well maintained white van fully decorated with blue ribbons, packed outside the shop. After the loaders are done with their work, she jumps onto the driver’s seat, ready to execute her mission.
Wangari is a hearse driver in Nyahururu Laikipia County with her head held high bravely explains to us what pushed her to the job her peers would consider weird and cynic.
Women tend to be very emotional and jobs similar to that people thinks are meant for men who are strong hearted, but a woman comes along to prove the myth wrong presenting all women in standardizing the gender equality with the slogan – “What a man can do also a woman can do better.”
“Since my mother passed away the job of my dreams became clear on my mind. I admired how those people took care of my mother’s body, and their good heart attracted me to doing this work.
“My dreams came true when the Anglican Church of Kenya [ACK] in Nyahururu believed in my effort and employed me as their Hearse driver,” Wangari explains.
Wangari who is a mother of two adults, tells us how difficult it was for her family to accept her job which they thought was not fit for her.
“My family took time before accepting my job. Others kept asking whether they could find me a better job other than hearse driving. My answer would forever convinced them that it was the job I chose deep from my heart and no one could change that, with time they accepted and they fully supported me,” Wangari says with a bright face.
Wangari is not only a hearse driver, she also helps the mortuary attendant in packing the corpse and also sets the coffin crane at the grave before the burial.
The energetic woman says that it was not easy, at first, before she came to adept, she feared the dead bodies to the point she ended up going for rehearsals in Nyahururu Mortuary as the mortuary attendant’s aid.
She pointedly says the jobs that people do not value nowadays are well rewarding as she explains how it has impacted her life a big.
“Since I started this job I have seen a big difference compared to other jobs I have done. I have given my children the best education that every child would dream of. The job has never disappointed me as it is satisfying my requirements, be it food or clothing,” the driver said adding that it only required courage and believing in herself to maintain the job.
To eradicate doubt in us she jubilantly drives us to the mortuary to clear her other services.
Two kilometres from the shop we arrive at the mortuary, the sombre mood that hovers the surrounding hits everyone while the red flowers from hearses would depict everything.
Wangari goes for a petrol fill up to prepare her journey to Ndogino, Laikipia County and returns to collect the two corpses.
“In this journey it is not advisable to work alone I have colleagues whom I work with and one of them is Benways coffin shop.
“We help each other with referrals, for instant when I have a customer who needs a coffin I advises them to buy from Benways and Benways does refers his customers to me,” Wangari said.
Wangari continues to discourage the youths from being choosy on what jobs to take urging them to do jobs that will help them in their daily life.
Wangari is not over with the jobs, she is a versatile woman and now drives the bodies to the church for a memorial service and later leaves to set the crane before the corpse are brought for the burial.
By Mary Murugi