Captain Ruweida Mohammed was flying from Mombasa to Lamu when her aircraft’s engine failed.
The oil gauge had changed its cushion abruptly. She thought that informing her passengers would trigger panic.
She chose just to continue with the flight without informing them.
“I was flying a caravan when we experienced engine failure and on board were nine passengers. When the emergency occurred we were already at Kipini,” she recalls.
“The good thing is I never panicked. I kept the issue to myself because announcing it would have sent shivers down the passengers’ spine.
I said a silent prayer and steered the aircraft slowly until we reached Lamu. However, the oil had spilled making landing at Lamu airstrip difficult.
I only informed the passengers of the engine problem after landing,” says Mohammed, the Lamu Woman Rep.
A pilot for 13 years, Ruweida has flown some of the country’s eminent personalities.
They include Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga while he was Prime Minister, governors Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu) Hassan Joho (Mombasa) Siaya Senator James Orengo, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and business tycoons Mohammed Jaffer of Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd and Abu Joho, the elder brother of Mombasa governor.
“There was a time Abu Joho insisted that I must fly him to Zanzibar. However, I had another schedule for Masai Mara.
With his insistence, I had to reschedule my itinerary and fly him to Zanzibar,” she told People Daily.
Before joining politics, Mohammed worked for Avro and Mombasa airlines.
“For the Mombasa airlines I used to fly mostly to Masai Mara, Mombasa and Lamu.
With the Avro, I would fly to Zanzibar, Comoros, Mozambique and Uganda among other countries,” she said.
“I started my career as a pilot in 1999 until 2017 when I joined politics,” she added.
Having served as a Women Rep for four years, Mohammed hopes to use her navigation skills to vie for the Lamu East parliamentary seat in a county whose politics is dominated by men.
She said she will run using any party affiliated to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“I am President Uhuru’s ardent supporter. I can never shift to any other party and if there will be no Jubilee in 2022 I will wait for the President to advise us on which party we should join,” she said, noting she no longer flies because of her demanding political duties.
“If I decide to go back to flying I will have to take a few refresher courses,” said the University of Newcastle aviation graduate.
Mohammed says as a pilot, she would spend her salary to give back to the community, especially during the Ramadhan period.
“I used my first salary to establish a feeding programme during Ramadhan that benefitted most residents.
I later introduced the programme to other Muslim pilots and our programme really uplifted lives.
My colleagues used to give me their contributions and we enlarged the Ramadhan feeding programme to the entire county. T
he initiative is now 20 years old,” she said. She added that the feeding programme touched the hearts of most residents, persuaded her to join politics.
“I opposed the proposal then because I was nursing my ailing grandmother then. She raised me up after the death of my parents,” she said.
Captain Mohammed, however, said in 2012, her grandmother passed away and still the community insisted on her joining politics.
“They approached my husband to inspire me. I joined politics and was elected in 2017,” she said.
According to the MP, her decision to vie for the constituency seat is meant to create a vacancy for other women.
She is set to battle it out with Lamu East MP Athman Sharrif, who is a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto.
Sharrif has indicated that will be defending his seat on a United Democratic Alliance party ticket.
“I believe I will still win the MP seat for Lamu East in 2022, as my constituents still need me to finish my projects. My constituents are very happy with my work.
I have worked hard to ensure they have electricity and fresh water in the villages,” Sharrif said.