Female rally scrutineer Hellen Bakanansa at work Credit: Africa Rally Archives
[/media-credit] Hellen Bakanansa at work Credit: Africa Rally Archives

World’s Motorsport governing body, the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) this weekend celebrates FIA Volunteers. Volunteers within the Motorsport are recognised for their dedicated support.

In celebration of the event, Kawowo Sports reached out to the only female scrutineer in Uganda; Hellen Bakanansa.

It takes boldness for a woman to step into a field dominated by men. That is what Bakanansa has done in becoming one of the best female mechanics as well as the only female motor rally scrutineer in Uganda.

[/media-credit] Hellen Bakanansa Credit: Africa Rally Archives

She has been part of the technical team in several rally events in Uganda, including the prestigious Africa Rally Championship round; the Pearl of Africa Rally.

Hellen Bakanansa shared her road to rally scruitneering.

How did you become a mechanic?

I always had passion for cars. My father being a mechanic, I gradually fell in love with what he was doing.

At a later age, he noticed my interest, and he started involving me when he was working on some cars. I eventually went and pursued a certificate in motor engineering.

And how did you join Motorsport?

The sound that came out of the rally cars always left me curious.

I was given an opportunity to be at the service crew of Hajji Musa Muliika were I learnt a lot about the rally cars. The passion for the sport grew stronger.

[/media-credit] Hellen Bakanansa at work Credit: Africa Rally Archives

From a service crew to scrutineering?

After sometime working as a service crew. I thought of upgrading to another department. Scrutineering was the best option I could go for then.

I approached Moses Seguya who is a well recognized chief scrutineer in Uganda. He was happy with my idea of joining the team. But, it didn’t come so easily.

I had to do an examination. In 2013, during the Mbarara Rally, I was again put to test as the cars were undergoing scrutineering. But am glad I passed well. There was no turning back since then.

What has been your best achievement so far as a scrutineer?

You all know we are just volunteers in this sports. There is no monetary gains involved.

But regardless, I have greatly improved on my skills, learnt a lot about different types of cars, and I have traveled.

I have got so many friends including the high class people who I would never come closer if I wasn’t part of most.

Most importantly, I have got clients from motorsport. People who trust my work always refer me to so many people to work on their cars even outside motorsport. This has been a big plus in my career.

What are the likely challenges that come with being a scrutineer?

Being a woman, most drivers always undermine my work. They never trust me with their cars. But I always find my way with the help of my seniors.

Since we use our own money in some events. I usually find myself in financial problems since some places we go to tend to be more expensive compared to the planned budget.

When doing this kind of job your always in contact with so many chemicals. And as a girl, I am so vulnerable to such things health wise. So being clean all the time is paramount.

Would your encourage more women to join mechanics.

Of course, I would. Competition is so minimal for lady mechanic unlike the other jobs most women engage in.

Women get more opportunities than men. We are more trusted than men, one reason we get more deals.

Joining scruitneering was the best thing to have happened to me. The benefits are just endless.

Where do you see your future in Motorsport?

First, I would like to pursue more studies in several departments of vehicles like wiring, mapping. This will lead me to my dream of becoming a doctor in rally cars.

I see myself leading this sport in future. With the kind of ideas that always run in my mind, I think I could be of great help as the president of the Federation of Motorsports clubs of Uganda (FMU).

[/media-credit] Safety Marshal’s stopping the fire on Yusuf Bukenya’s car Credit: Africa Rally Archives

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