Elizabeth Wakesho Marami: Beating The Odds To Become First Kenyan Female Marine Pilot 

By Prudence Minayo

Over the years, Kenyan women are taking prominent roles in politics and leadership of blue chips. Elizabeth Wakesho Marami has walked a path very few women in the country have dared to. With an endearing personality and petite physique, she took on the challenging task of being a marine pilot. This made her the first woman in Kenya to become a marine pilot. She appeared on Business Daily’s Kenya Top 40 under 40 Woman in 2015. 

Education Background 

2013: BSC Nautical Technology at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Alexandria, Egypt. 

2014: passed International Unlimited 2nd mate license examination. This made her the first female marine pilot in Kenya at the age of 25. 

She was also pursuing an MBA in operations management at the University of Nairobi. 


Elizabeth always wanted to be unique. This prompted her to apply for a scholarship at the Maritime Transport in Alexandria, Egypt. She skipped a chance to study law at the University of Nairobi and went for the competitive scholarship. They were only two female students with the rest being male. Classes would run until late in the evening and there was no time for fun or socialising. 

After five years of an intensive engineering course, she received her certificate from the International Maritime Body (IMB). She also went through an additional channel training at Kenya Ports Authority. 

At the beginning of her career, she was once again the only woman in an all-male dominated area. There was one bathroom for male staff and the rest for the general public. Women in the maritime industry comprise at most 2% of the more than a million seafarers in the world according to the International Labor Organization. 

Rejection and Becoming 1st Officer 

The scholarship was awarded to 9 people, 8 male and one female. Their course requires practical skills in the form of 18 months of sea time. All the male students were able to secure sea time but she was rejected by various companies. Without the 18-months sea time, she could not graduate as captain, 1st in command. She was often rejected based on her gender since most companies did not want sexual harassment suits. 

Also Read: Dr. Jennifer Riria: From An Early Pregnancy To Becoming KWFT CEO

She started off as a second officer in command on board the merchant navy foreign going ships, and a marine pilot at Kenya Ports Authority. 

In September 2021, she was among three mariners who were promoted from second officer to first officer with an American cruise shipping company based in Miami, Florida. This was her second huge milestone with the company. In March the previous year, she had been part of the first ever all-female team that set sail, making history in the industry. 

“September 18, 2021, I officially took over as First Officer on Celebrity Edge. Never ever give up on your dreams,” she said following her promotion. 

Away from the sea 

She is also a writer with a successful blog. According to Wakesho, if she wasn’t a marine pilot she would be working in the fashion industry. She would have built an international brand that showcases African fabric and unique designs. 

The bold woman also drives an initiative called Against the Tide.  The initiative’s aim is to advocate for reasonable gender balance in the maritime industry and empower young girls. 

Wakesho also works as a mentor in a number of organizations including:

  • GEC (Girl Education Challenge) Kenya
  • Akili Dada
  • WOMESA (Women in Maritime in Eastern and Southern Africa)
  • KUZA project in Mombasa.