Latest News

Woman got rich working in mine pretending to be man before being exposed and falsely accused of rape

By Mason White 3:03 PM May 17, 2017
Pili Hussein
Pili Hussein
By: Mason White

A brave woman who wanted a better life for her family, pretended to be a man so she can work in the mining industry.

Pili Hussein of Tanzania, grew up in a large family. As the daughter of a farmer, Hussein was taught to do hard labor such as caring for cattle, from a young age.

Her father had six wives, and she was one of 38 children. Hussein had a hard life and when she got married, she was even more unhappy.

Hussein said that at 31 years old, she finally decided to leave her abusive husband.

She found work in a small town in Mererani, which is in the foothills of Africa’s highest mountain, and the only place in the world where mining for a rare, violet-blue gemstones called tanzanite, takes place.

However, she had a problem. Women were not allowed to enter the mining industry so Hussein pretended to be a man. She dressed as a man and she became known as “Uncle Hussein.”

Hussein worked 10 to 12 hours a day, digging and sifting, hoping to discover precious stones. Hussein said that she went 2,000 feet into the mine.

“I would do this more bravely than many other men. I was very strong and I was able to deliver what men would expect another man could do,” a proud Hussein said.

After about a year, Hussein struck it rich, discovering two huge clusters of tanzanite stones. With the money she made, she built new homes for her father, mother and twin sister. She bought more tools and began employing miners to work for her.

She paid for the education of more than 30 nieces, nephews and her grandchildren.

However, after working at the mine for 10 years as a man, she was one day arrested. A woman had reported that she had been raped by some of the miners and Hussein was arrested as a suspect.

At that point, Hussein was forced to reveal her identity.

She asked police to find a woman to examine her physically, to prove that she could not be responsible for the rape. After undergoing an exam, she was cleared from all charges.

Her fellow miners found it hard to believe they had been fooled for so long.

“It was not easy for them to accept,” Hussein said. With her secret finally out, she was able to find a man and get married. Hussein said that once she had children, people finally believed that she was a woman.

Hussein has built a successful career and now owns her own mining company with 70 employees, 3 of them are women who work as cooks rather than miners.

“I’m proud of what I did, it has made me rich, but it was hard for me,” Hussein said.

When she was asked about her daughter’s future, the hardworking mother said that she does not want her daughter to follow in her path, but wants her to get a good education and have an easier career.