By Isaac Blessings
As saying goes, ‘What a man can do a woman can do even better’. In recent years we’ve seen Kenyan women taking up careers and jobs that were previously dominated by men and Oh boy, haven’t they made the country proud?
Recently the world watched as Kenyan female captain Ruth Karauri displayed her prowess as she landed a plane amidst a storm at the Heathrow Airport in London.
In this article, WoK takes a look at the career of yet another of Kenya’s abled daughters, Captain Peninah Karanja – the first woman captain at Rwanda’s national carrier RwandAir.
Background & Education
Peninah Karanja was born and raised in Nairobi where she spent all her childhood and teenage life.
She joined Loreto High School in 2000 and sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in 2003. At the time, students would stay home for at least a year after completing secondary education before being placed in one of the few universities or colleges in the country.
Peninah was restless and didn’t want to stay idle for a full year. At the beginning of 2004, she left the country for South Africa where she joined the prestigious 43 Air School in Port Albert to study a course in piloting.
She was at the South African-based school for three years where she studied aviation, flight safety, commercial aviation, piloting, civil aviation, airlines, aircraft maintenance, aviation security, airports, aerospace, airworthiness, aircraft control and charter.
After graduating from 43 Air School in 2006, she stayed jobless for quite some time before landing a lucrative job with Rwanda’s national courier famously known as RwandAir. She joined the airline as a pilot where she worked as a first officer.
Peninah remained focused and diligent in her job therein encouraging her fellow colleagues and impressing her bosses. It didn’t even take a year for her hard work and commitment to pay off and on May 12, 2013, she was promoted to Captain becoming the first female captain in Rwanda.
As a captain, Peninah has the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight.
Inspiring other women
Peninah has since used her privilege as the first lady captain in Rwanda to influence and inspire other women looking to join the aviation industry.
Through her, Rwanda got its first Rwandese female captain Esther Mbabazi. Peninah trained Mbabazi to become a captain by often flying with her as her First Officer. Mbabazi learnt the basics and gained experience to fly a plane and also became captain.