Nigerian Women – Igbo Vs. Yoruba

Why aren’t we riding motorbikes like our Igbo sisters?

Today in any part of Yorubaland, it is very unlikely to see any Yoruba woman on motorbikes, one can not rule this out in a big city like Lagos. A well to do Yoruba woman household may have several cars and motorbikes but she will likely rely on someone to drive her around leaving her stranded when the driver isn’t around. For most Yoruba women from the market women to the housewives and office staff – some do own and drive their cars if they can afford one but mostly the only means of transportation is by far reliance on public transport while saving to get their own car. Very common to see a family of five on a motorbike, and the main reason was that it was men who can ride so the whole family wait until the male in the household is ready.

Igbo woman on bike

Photo Credit:

Most of the Igbo women riding motorbikes are benefiting from self-reliance and satisfaction that they are in charge of when their journey should start.

Is Igbo women embracing motorcycles as a form of transport more than just meet the eye?

Male child is very important to all Nigeria ethnic groups, we can argue that the basis for this is outdated but still in our communities today, most parents still hold on to the belief system of family name being carried on long after they have departed lie solely on having a male child.

In Yourbaland, being female regardless of which position you are in the family, for the most part are viewed the same way – as someone who is leaving the family one day therefore less investment on girls followed by less expectations. Things are changing as girls in Yorubaland are being educated but the fundamental principle remains hence the apparent glass ceiling in most areas.

For my Igbo sisters, the first child girl has a lot of responsibility bestowed on her from early age, lots is expected of her, culturally. She is empowered to do more so as to carry the family legacy and in turn she is held in high esteem.

Likes attracts likes – could this be one of the reasons many Igbo women of all ages are confident today riding motorbikes as a way of easing transport issues in their towns?

Here is why I think Yoruba women should emulate their Igbo sisters in the area of easing transportation stress in our communities.

Cost – Cost of owing a motorbike is significantly cheaper than a car so you are more likely to achieve your goal of transport self-reliance if aiming at getting a motorbike than a car.

Economic benefits – Market women could get their goods to the market /clients quicker and at convenient time, foster business productivity.

Showing by example – Children learn more from what they see. If they see their mothers and sisters not limited by stereotypes of only men ride motorbikes talk, they are more likely to grow up wanting to emulate their female role models.

I realise that this may not be practicable in big city like Lagos where major roads are not very safe, but it is a fantastic option for those in the outskirts. And for those in smaller towns such as Abeokuta, Oyo, Ife and villages in-between will benefit enormously.


Categories: Africa, Nigeria, Women

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

41 replies

  1. Marghi women in southern Borno state used to ride bicycles, not too sure with the Boko Haram thing going on if this still continues.
    No one ever mentioned them, and this was before “alapupu” / “keke” became widespread.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So much damage have been done due to lies been propagated about one another just so to score votes for politicians. I believe we have so much to learn from one another drawing from examples all around us.

      I remember vaguely that women in Yoruba used to ride Vespa when I was little – this is among the educated.

      I am fascinated about Igbo women riding bicycles and motorbikes because it all ties to women empowerment.

      Regarding Borno women, it will be interesting to know what the news is these days (putting BH on the side). I know that in my area, some muslims women would not even ride Okada (commercial motorcycle) as the religion/tradition prohibit being too close to men who is not husband/family.


  2. Alafia, I am so excited ton have found you. I am what I like to call a New World Yoruba Woman, as I was raised in the United States and although, I was raised here, men can be just as archaic, I have many God brothers from Lagos to Ibadan and I thought I was crazy because for the life of me, I felt as if they want us (the women) to be codependent and often times refuse to support us appropriately. Although, as an American woman, I cannot sit and wait for a man to do anything for me because, as my Yeye says, “Hold your breath and you may die!”….. thanks for letting us know we are not Crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. HA! I once saw in Batam, Indonesia 5 people riding one motor bike and in Hanoi, Vietnam a family of four well balanced on a motorbike, with a wooden cabinet. Thank you for sharing your culture 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this enlightening look into your culture–well written and informative. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on All about Nigeria and commented:
    whats your take on me it a #fact

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is absolutely true aunty Folake.In the eastern Nigeria were i come from both young and old women ride motorbikes unlike in Lagos were i reside.I actually feel out of place whenever i travel to the east because my mates that reside there comfortably ride a motorcycle and its kinda embarrasing saying that I cannot.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I found your piece quite interesting and considerably enlightening.
    I would love to have your opinion, particularly on one of my ebooks that touches on this aspect of our Nigerian diversity and much more:

    Romance of the Regions

    Pls look it up. You could get a sizable preview, but if you could Direct Message me your email on Twitter or Facebook, I would love to send you the full ebook…

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Be safe.


  8. “Most of the Igbo women riding motorbikes are benefiting from self-reliance and satisfaction that they are in charge of when their journey should start.” When their journey should start… this absolutely sums everything up for women, doesn’t it. I have been seeing the photos of women on motorcycles on jujufilms. Now you have provided the back story. Thank you.


  9. Thank you for teaching us! God bless!


  10. Interesting article. Thanks for dropping by and your follow. I know very little about Africa so will follow too to learn more.


  11. It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday and this was a very intelligent and informative post. I love anything regarding Africa.


  12. Baganda women cant even be seen to ride a bicycle lol.Congratulatiions to Nigerian women.


    • Hi Lubega – Really re Bangada women? Whao! See we do need a lot to learn amongst ourselves within the continent. Thank you but really the freedom and confidence to ride bikes and motorcycles now is only my Igbo sisters. We Yorubas are just learning to get over ourselves to emulate what works.

      Thanks for the comment.


  13. Very interesting article! In Taiwan and Japan, men and women equally ride mopeds/motorbikes. And of course Italy as well.It is a very popular and safe mode of transportation, not to mention fun! In northern California we have some mopeds but it is not as popular, which is a shame, but regardless we don’t think about it being for just men.Hopefully more equality for men and women all together all over the world 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Niried for the comment and for reading my post. Lots is gender-based in Nigeria and because we focus too much on what we don’t like about each other’s tribe, we lose sight on amazing things to emulate. Hopefully, behaviour will change as more people get to read about the benefits of embracing our differences.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. i love jujufilms and now I love folakemi odoaje…thank you for allowing me to view your part of this world… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you juju films for letting me use the photo. You are doing wonderful job of showcasing our differences in positive ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Very interesting post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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