Rosalind Wairimu is one of the finest soldiers you will find in the Kenyan military.
She is a combatant diver within the elite squads of the Kenya Navy.
She belongs to a special breed of soldiers who are trained in the art of underwater warfare.
They are skilled in scuba diving, demolitions, and underwater combat.
Combatant divers are vital to the success of many military operations, including reconnaissance, sabotage, and search and rescue.
According to military records, Lt Wairimu is the only competent female diver in East and Central Africa.
She became a fully-fledged Navy diver in 2012.
This is her journey as told by WoK:
For 7 years, Lt. Wairimu had been training at the Mtongwe Naval base in Mombasa, making numerous diving trips to the floor of the Indian Ocean.
As one would expect, she overcame many physical and mental challenges, even when somewhat questioning her place in the diving world.
She joined the Kenya Navy in 2003 as a servicewoman before joining the Ulinzi volleyball team.
“I was among the first personnel to join the Ulinzi Volleyball team. After the team was disbanded, I was relocated fom Nairobi to Mombasa. There was no team to train with, and I thought diving was the best sport because it demands a lot of physical fitness,” said the proud mother of two.
Through determination, persistence, and a love of diving, she proved herself in a male-dominated world to become a valid and respected member of the diving community.
She had to pass the same physical test for divers, male or female.
“When I was training, we were two ladies. However, one decided to drop off. I did the first test and failed. I took a retest, failed again, and because of my interest in diving, I decided to take the third retest, which I passed,” she said.
This can-do attitude earned her the respect of not only the diving instructors but also an instructor who currently serves as the master diver in her unit.
In diving, mental and physical preparation was the only chance of making the cut.
“It was tough because when we were training, we were about 20 of us. There were four officers and sixteen service personnel. Out of the 20, only 8 of us graduated,” she said.
She explained that the qualification dive for the Kenya Navy is 130 feet below the sea.
“You have to go to the Indian Ocean and dive below 130 feet. The pressure there is immense. You also encounter dangerous sea animals like sharks, stonefish, and other ferocious creatures. You have to stay calm because the fish can harm you if you panic,” she said.
Her efforts were rewarded in 2012 when she was commissioned as an officer, a huge promotion in the military.
She currently conducts dives only when there is an operation or when the commander of the navy fleet decides to assign them a task.
The soldier diver is full of praise for a rare, life-saving piece of equipment called the decompression chamber that is owned by very few navies in Africa.
The rare machine, which costs over sh 100 million, is only found in Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa in the entire continent.
By channeling her passion for diving, personal courage, and spiritual beliefs, Wairimu has been able to succeed and solidify her place in history.
Today, her unique position as a role model is an encouragement for young women to pursue their dreams regardless of challenges.