Abisige Akech, the First Female and Youngest Waterbus Captain on Africa’s Largest Lake

If you have ever been to Kenya, then you already know that the lakeside town of Kisumu is well known for being a hub of fresh fish from Lake Victoria. Found not only in Kenya but also the neighboring countries Uganda and Tanzania, Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest freshwater lake in the world. Even though Kenya has the least percentage of this massive feature, it is the home of two stunning islands, Mfangano and Rusinga. It is to and from these islands and the shores of Lake Victoria in Kisumu that Abisige Akech picks and drops passengers every single day.

Akech, only twenty-one years old of age, has accomplished a first at such a young age. It is always so admirable to see a lady succeed in a profession that is widely dominated by men. With all the complexities of navigating in such a massive water body, Akech was bold enough to decide to dive into the career.

Here is what she told Citizen TV Kenya’s Victoria Rubadiri regarding her journey into the career on ‘Her Say’ segment.

“I was just at home waiting for something to do then I realized I had this passion of being a seafarer, but one thing I never knew is where I would learn this seafaring thing. So, my daddy looked for a school which I went to, that is Kisumu Maritime Institute pursuing grade two, after which I have had several attachments in different ships.”

Being the only female captain on the deck, which she says she is used to, she narrates the challenges that she faces.

“Being a female seafarer is a challenge. It is an enormous challenge because when you go to big companies most of the time, you find that there are so many males, and for females, before the employer takes you he has so much doubt – how are you going to move onboard? How are you going to do this?”

Akech mentioned that it was tough for her to begin her career as most people thought a lady couldn’t navigate a waterbus. However, she was bold enough not to be taken down by those words, and she took it as a challenge. Having set a record in her family as the first waterbus captain, Abisige says that her story should be a wakeup call to all ladies who think everything comes by easily.

“Nowadays we don’t have to depend on somebody to give us something to put on the table, or in the pocket, or to go have fun out there.”

With this, she encourages ladies to do what they are passionate about. She says that they should not be afraid of taking courses such as the one she chose and many others that are assumed to be meant for only men. Abisige Akech is and will continue to be an inspiration to girls in Kenya and across Africa for having the courage to do something that landed her such a prestigious title.


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