Memo the mechanic tells all

Memo the Mechanic born Memory Bere has taken social media by storm as a beautiful young woman that has entered the male dominated filed of motor mechanics- and is winning .Review &Mail caught up with her to understand the woman behind the persona most recognizable on Twitter.

My name is Memory Bere, popularly known as Memo Makanika. I am a motor mechanic; I fix both diesel and petrol light motor vehicles. I was born and bred in Chipinge and I’m the last born in a family of four: two boys, two girls.

I got my education in Chipinge, that is where I did my primary and secondary education. After I finished my high school I decided to study motor mechanics since it was something I grew up enjoying as I was passionate about mechanics.

When I was around Grade 5, my dad used to have a Datsun ’59 and I sued to call it a skoro skoro because each and every time that car used to be attended to by mechanics because of various faults.

Whenever my dad took his car to the mechanics, I used to accompany him and I got to study the way the mechanics worked and I think that is when I fell in love with fixing cars because it was fascinating looking at all those spanners that I would also play with.

Back home, when my father used to fix the car himself, I would be the “spanner girl” as I assisted him with various spanners. Doing this all the time, I fell in love with the job and with time I started assist my father in mechanical tasks and fixing the car itself when it developed a problem.

So, this is something that I grew up with and made me fall in love with motor mechanics. When I finished my high school I decided that I needed to advance on the vocation so I went to college and did motor mechanics and obtained my certificate.

However, after obtaining the certificate it was difficult to find a job because motor mechanics is a male-dominated field especially here in Africa, including here in Zimbabwe. There are not enough women motor mechanics.

It was this difficult for me to find a job as a female motor mechanic in Zimbabwe so I decided to go to South Africa. When I went to South Africa; but when I went there it wasn’t so easy, either. In South Africa, like in Zimbabwe, there are no female motor mechanics but I would say by the grace of God, I finally found a job at what used to be one of the biggest workshops in Durban.

That is where I was groomed to be the motor mechanic that I am today. So, I would say my overall motor mechanic experience I got it in South Africa, because that’s where I got my grooming, although I recently made my way back to Zimbabwe.

The reason I came back to Zimbabwe was to be an inspiration to young women and give encouragement to the younger generation who want to take up the profession but may not have people to look up to. I want to inspire them that, if I can do it, they can do it too; and that they shouldn’t feel discouraged by what people say because if you listen to detractors you won’t go where you want to go.

As for me, I didn’t look back or listen to what people said about motor mechanics being not a female field, but stood firm to prove that there isn’t a job exclusively for males or exclusively for women. As long as you are capable of doing the job you can do it.

This is what pushed me to perfect my work and what drives me to work harder to show the young generation what I have achieved.

Review & Mail: Looking back, a few years back, would you have imagined yourself being the face of women blazing a trail?
Memo: I didn’t expect that I would be at the level that I am at right now because of challenges that I faced as a woman in a male-dominated field. There are so many challenges such as sexual harassment, lack of support, lack of respect as well as lack of support from my female kind themselves. Actually it was some women who would discourage me and some thought I was working with men so as to steal their husbands. Facing these challenges, I just set on proving that I could do the work and I had to keep pushing and believing in myself. It has been my hard work that has brought recognition after all those years in the industry – for nine years. I have come a long way but there is a long way still, ahead.
Review & Mail: You are still young, but what would you say you have achieved for yourself?
Memo: I think so far the best achievement I have made so far is introducing a number of young women to the motor industry. I think it’s an achievement as I am seeing young women coming up and following my footsteps. This is what gives me joy. It’s my dream to introduce as many women as possible to get into the motor mechanics field.

Review & Mail: Do you have other goals, academically and professionally?
Memo: My wish is to introduce and encourage women to enter into male-dominated fields. Barring resource constraints, as a career goal, I want to modify and patent my own motor engine and leave my mark as a female Zimbabwean mechanic who came up with an innovation and knowledge about a particular engineering work. That is one of my goal, although I see a challenge in terms of resources which could be a huge drawback.

Review & Mail: Social media, as they say, can be toxic, but I’m sure you have harnessed it pretty well. Tell us how you margined to do this?
Memo: In my case, I would say social media have helped me a lot in getting known by a lot of people. I realised that I order for me to push my brand to be known I must utilize social media. I advertise and publicise my work on social media. I concede that on social media there are some people who do not like me who say negative things about me. However, I do not respond to them, because I need to maintain my brand without being drawn into personal wars or negativity. So I just ignore the negative energy because I know where I want to achieve and where I am going. However, I still maintain the use of social media as a business tool as most of my customers come through social media, especially on Twitter, followed by Facebook and LinkedIn. I can only be grateful for social media because it has helped me achieve the level of recognition and business that I am now.

Review & Mail: Have you had some low points in life; and what where they?
Memo: When I got into the motor mechanics field, the first days were the low points in my career because of lack of support. I expected that would get support from my community, friends and family members but people were discouraging me saying, ‘Where did you ever see a girl mechanic. You will not go far in this field. It is a dangerous field and you will be destroyed’; etc. This really weighed me down during my formative years. I had no people telling me to go for it and pushing me on. All I had were discouragements.

Review & Mail: What do you want to achieve I life and what would you require to get there?
Memo: I want to establish one of the biggest workshops in Africa where female mechanics will work. I also want to encourage young women to get into the mechanical field, and I will be training them at my workshop. It is my wish also to advocate for young women not to get into early marriages. Most of them get into these situations because of not having anything to do, so if I have my workshop I can recruit these young women and teach them about the trade so that they can be self-sustaining. In order to achieve those things, I must have capital and it’s not easy to come by and I have set myself a challenge to work for it so that I can have enough to set up that big workshop in Zimbabwe where only women will be employed as motor mechanics. That’s my wish!

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