Kenyans celebrate the 6th Mashujaa Day to honour the sacrifices and achievements of various individuals in contributing to the welfare of society and the nation at large. In our continuing series of K24 Mashujaa we spotlight a middle aged woman in Mombasa who has beaten all odds to become East Africa’s only female marine pilot. Mercy Milanoi spent the day with Elizabeth Marami in the high seas and tells us how she is scaling the heights in a male dominated field.
Elizabeth Marami grew up knowing she wanted to do something that would make her stand out, something out of the ordinary. She held onto that thought,and God answered her prayer when she was awarded a scholarship to pursue a navigation course in Alexandria, Egypt.
“I didn’t want to be ordinary. I wanted to pursue something that would challenge me. So when I heard about a scholarship, I could not resist the temptation to apply. The scholarship would have me leave Kenya for Alexandria, Egypt to study navigation. The selection process was very competitive and I couldn’t believe it when I was awarded. I had another offer to study law at the University of Nairobi but my mind was set on navigation.’’
Her job as a marine pilot entails assisting vessels with coming into territorial waters because according to law, vessels entering a country’s territorial waters may not progress to the harbor without officials.
As a woman working in a male dominated industry, the job came with its own challenges, including earning the respect of senior management. “I have had those who have accepted me, helped me become better, and there have been some rejections that stung so hard I almost gave up, but overall I’d say I have certainly grown a thick skin.”
The pilot has a passion for fashion and writing and has expressed it in her own fashion blog where she shares pictures and fashion tips, as well as personal essays.