When Samuel Mwatato flew a Cesna 150 for the first time 30 years ago, he never imagined he will be collecting garbage in Mtwapa, Mombasa.
The 55-year-old – now garbage collector—had an illustrious piloting career in the United States for 15 years before he went jobless.
Speaking to KTN News, Mwawato narrated how his journey to the top and back down played out.
He began his career at Wilson airport as a cabin crew before being laid off in 1990.
"We used to serve coffee, food and drinks in the plane but I was mostly interested with being a pilot," a calm Mwawato said during the interview.
Late 1990, Mwawato got a scholarship under the East Coast Methodist Church to study aviation in the US.
"I went to Pegasus Flying School and it is here where I flew my first plane which was a Cesna 150," he said.
He did recreational flying as he flew the aviation students.
After living in the US for 15 years, Mwawato decided to come back to Kenya and continue with his piloting career, but this was not to be.
He first needed to convert his licence to a commercial one.
Mwawato needed Sh500,000 to get the new licence. He managed to pay the amount after securing a loan but he later failed to earn the license as he only clocked 10 hours of day time flying instead of the required ten hours during the day and night.
He later went to work for a community-based organisation called Responsible Citizen Initiative where he now works as a garbage collector.
His woes would extend to his family after it cut ties with him. He was married with two daughters while in the US.
After the failed marriage, he re-married but things didn’t work out and he had to part ways again with his second wife.
“I’m just surviving and hoping for the best, for now I’ll have to do with what is available,” said Mwawato as he quoted the Swahili saying ‘Mchagua jembe si mkulima’.