There are two stereotypes in the motoring world that have refused to go away: one, that women are clueless about cars and are bad drivers, and two, that Subaru drivers are reckless and showy on the road.
So when Linda Nyamwaya and her friends decided to form the Subie Queens motoring club, they knew they were setting themselves up for criticism and hordes of disapproving eyes.
Linda is the chairperson of the group and believes in not only owning a car, but also getting to understand it well. Even though she admits that not many women own Subarus in Kenya, the group has been of great benefit to its members.
“There is this WhatsApp group of Subaru owners, male and female, to which women would be added. Then women started leaving the group one by one. This bothered me because I had been in the group for a year and I couldn’t have any sisters in it,” recalls Linda.
When she enquired from the women why they left, a number of them confided to her that some men in the group were making unwelcome passes at them, after picking their numbers from the group chat. That is when she thought of forming an all-women group.
On March 24, 2016, they started off as 11 Subie Queens. Linda made it her mission to talk to every female Subaru owner she came across at parking lots and petrol stations and today the group has 89 members.
Nowadays, the Subie Queens bring over friends, colleagues and even their relatives to the events they hold to interest more women to join in. They also have a website, Facebook and Instagram pages that further help reach more women.
The Subie Queens is not just a showbiz and road trips affair. Linda says it is formed around three objectives: mentorship, charity and road safety.
Yet it is not only the Subaru ladies who are organised into clubs. Many other women take pride in their cars and motorcycles. The women who own and are passionate about the famous “German machine” formed She’s Mercedes Kenya, a local branch of the global She’s Mercedes, which has more than 56,000 followers in Instagram.
The Kenyan club, whose first Instagram post was put up on September 4, so far has 259 followers. Its membership is also in the main Mercedes Benz Club of Kenya.
Inked Sisterhood is yet another group composed of female motorbike riders, the Throttle Queens, who early this year became a sensation when they rode from Kenya to Burundi to spread the road safety message.
Linda says Subie Queens has a seven-member committee chaired by Linda, with Edna Nyameto as organising secretary and Rispa Ngugi as marketer. Their mission has been to disabuse the Kenyan public of the perception that Subaru drivers are rowdy, noisy and reckless.
“We are always campaigning for road safety. We have car clinics that have helped us to know more about our vehicles so that we are able to take care of most situations that wouldn’t require a professional to handle,” says Edna.
The Sunday Nation caught up with them at a garage in Roysambu, where they were learning more about their cars to avoid being duped by unscrupulous mechanics.
The Queens have helped many charities. In 2016, for example, they visited the adult oncology ward at Kenyatta National Referral Hospital and donated a fridge for storing medicines. In 2017, they visited Muthetheni Girls High School in Machakos County to mentor the students.
“The Form Four girls from the school said they wished we had come in earlier because we got to just talk about life, choices and careers, and they were inspired,” recalls Linda.
They pick a different county to visit each year for their charity efforts. They then establish contact with the institutions to find out their needs. They also seek funding from sponsors to help delivery expensive items. On most of the county trips, they also invite other motoring clubs.
With branches in Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Embu and Kisii, they have been seeking more members.
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