Losing a career is a threat. Not only does it call in financial uncertainties, but it also triggers emotional devastations with threats to shake relationships that bind because one’s occupation may be a source of self-identity, especially when it was a job that one loved doing.
The sad part is…it takes time to process the change. One story of Samuel Mwawato Mwavita is nothing short of emotional, evoking a tenor of empathy to the point of tears.
Not so long ago, Mwavita was fortunate enough to spend many hours souring the American skyways as a skilled aviator, commanding small to medium-sized aircraft. But where exactly did his journey begin?
Mwamvita was born in Jibana location in Kaloleni. He studied at St Augustine, Aga Khan for his O-levels, and Ribe High School for his A-Levels before joining Kenya Airways, where he worked as a flight attendant, rubbing shoulders with many pilots. This piqued his interest in aviation.
“We used to serve drinks like coffee and food at the airplane, but I wanted to be a pilot,” he said in an interview with KTN News.
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Four years later, in 1990, the 59-year-old was dismissed from employment, but by luck, he got a scholarship from East Coast Methodist Church which took him to the USA, where he enrolled at a flying school. His career ascended to all new levels.
He became a certified pilot, and according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) database, Mwavita is a trained commercial pilot and a ground instructor for advanced instruments, all certifications received in 1993.
“My first plane to fly was Cessna 150. I also flew Mooney, which has retractable gears and propellers,” he stated.
After spending a striking 15 years as a pilot, he returned to Kenya with a desire to forge an even more remarkable path to success. However, to obtain a pilot in command (PIC) endorsement from Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), Mwavita needed 10 hours of daytime and 10 hours of night flying for a fee of Ksh500,000.
He says he managed to raise the required cash through loans but failed to meet the 10 hours night flying standard. It meant he couldn’t get his commercial pilot license, putting him at crossroads since he had experienced financial deprivation.
With no external footholds, Mwavita turned to garbage collection to fend for himself. He joined a community-based organization, Responsible Citizens Initiative, in his Kilifi hometown, where he now blends the threads of his past as a pilot, infusing his new path with unwavering dedication and purpose that one day, all shall be well.
His personal life has never been good either; while in the USA, he married a white woman with whom he had two daughters. Even so, he has never talked to them after his return as his wife changed her address for reasons not known to him.
He married again while in Kenya and had a son, but the second wife called it quits after he failed to provide for them adequately.
Mwavita’s story, when told, unfolds like a delicate reed, swaying against the winds of adversity, offering solace and inspiration to dreamers and believers alike.