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Shecanic, Africa’s wheelwomen breaking ground of deemed society’s ‘unconventional for girls.

In a world where tyres, toolboxes and gears were thought to be the exclusive preserve of men in grease-stained overalls, Nana Afua Serwaa Adusei fearlessly crashed through those stereotypes, leaving a trail of inspiration in her wake.

Nana Afua Serwaa Adusei, alias, Shecanic (a women-led auto mechanic workshop), was a standout team member in the Wanderlust team that completed a historic 10,000 km road trip, from Accra to London weeks ago. She was the only woman on the trip and the engineer for the 13 automobiles as they traversed a number of African countries to Europe.

Ignition

Nana Afua’s journey started in the heady days of the late 80s and early 90s, a time when gender norms were slowly bending but not without resistance. “I vividly remember how my cousins would tinker with their toy cars, and I got the hang of it quite easily,” Nana Afua reminisced.

Growing up surrounded by a brigade of male cousins, she discovered a fascination for pursuits that society deemed ‘unconventional’ for girls. A dexterous person, she also had an affinity for ‘life skills: cooking, technical drawing and the like. “Perhaps it was the way those subjects were introduced to us that made it easier to appreciate,” she says of Soul Clinic where she had her early schooling.

Nana Afua marched confidently into the Aburi Girls Senior High School, where geography was her chosen companion. It was however a far cry from the practical approach she had previously experienced, as knowledge of sand dunes and waterfalls were left to the imagination but set her on a quest to see these things for herself. The halls of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology welcomed her, where she studied for a Bachelors’ degree in Sociology that she credits for heightening her curiosity.

Shecanic

The spark of Nana Afua’s inspiration ignited as she pondered the vulnerability many, especially women, face with their automobiles. “It struck me that being knowledgeable about auto mechanics was a form of empowerment,” she shared earnestly.

The tales of being ripped-off and hoodwinked due to mechanical ignorance lit a fire in her heart. Armed with determination and the pursuit of justice, she embarked on a mission to master the mechanics of automobiles across diverse terrains, ensuring that no one regardless of gender would be taken for a ride.

“I also did not like it that technical skills were pushed to the back-burner, and it seemed to be for persons who did not excel in their academic pursuits,” the Shecanic founder said.

“Then I realized that my passion for mechanics and empowering women could be beautifully intertwined,” Nana Afua mused.

Starting Shecanic was not a decision for the faint-hearted. The incredulous stares and furrowed brows that greeted her announcement seemed to echo the skepticism society held about women in traditionally male-dominated fields. “How are you a technician, when there is no oil on your body?”; “You speak so well to be a technician,”; “I am here to see Nana; no, not you, the man, Nana,” are just a few of the statements she has had to engage with.

But Nana Afua’s resolve was unbreakable, her vision crystal clear. “I knew I was onto something transformative,” she asserted with a defiant grin. And, slowly, the tides began to turn. What once seemed like an uphill battle has evolved into a movement, with a growing number of young ladies finding their stride under the hood of a car. “The joy on their faces when they fix an engine issue is my ultimate reward,” Nana Afua shared.

Accra to London by road

Her journey took a momentous turn when a photoshoot beckoned her to the open road, enticing her to join a road trip from Accra to London. Here, two of her greatest passions, geography and automobiles seamlessly converged. “When I first heard of it, I was extremely intrigued and said ‘Ei Charley, this is serious o’,” she says of the adventure.

Not content with merely being a passenger, Nana Afua offered her expertise through auto checkup services; becoming the guardian of sorts for the engines (and other car parts) on the epic voyage. As the miles unraveled beneath their tires, so did the tapestry of Africa’s wonders. The trip painted a vivid picture of the need for good roads, especially if a blossoming intra-African tourism era is to be realized.

Mali’s colorful buses, Senegal’s awe-inspiring infrastructure, and the enduring reverence for Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy in Ghana were sights that were etched into her memory. “It was a journey of discovery, both in terms of mechanics and the beauty our continent holds,” Nana Afua mused.

Nana Afua’s aspirations don’t stop at auto repair. She’s steering Shecanic toward pioneering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) participation among young women. Additionally, her sights are firmly set on the intersection of automobile advancements and the burgeoning wave of intra-African tourism. “I want to leave a legacy that propels women forward in every field, including those where they are least expected,” she declared, her eyes shining with determination.

In a world where engines roar and stereotypes crumble, Nana Afua Serwaa Adusei continues to be a narrative of empowerment, mechanical brilliance and cross-continental discovery. She’s the embodiment of what happens when passion meets purpose, and with every twist of the wrench she’s engineering a future where the road ahead is paved with possibility.

 

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