A scuba diver, motorbike rider and a football and basketball player, Martha Githui aka Kui Bett, is a Jane of all trades when it comes to sport. She, however, narrates how scuba diving has had a huge impact on her life
When Martha Githui, 34, visited Sarawak, a coastal area in East Malaysia, she met a professional scuba diver who made an eye-opening revelation to her.
“He told me about the world under the sea -- how different and beautiful and calming it was. That scuba diving is what helped him mend his broken heart after his wife’s death,” Martha says.
She had encountered scuba diving once, back in 2006 when she was a student at the Multimedia University, Malaysia, which had a scuba diving club. “Although I was interested in joining the club, it was too expensive,” she explains.
And once again, during this visit later on, Martha was not in a season where she could dedicate her time and money to learn scuba diving.
However, the time came when she graduated in 2011 and in 2012 found herself working in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She immediately paid for scuba diving training. “The classes included everything from learning how to be comfortable in a diving suit to breathing and diving techniques,” Martha says, adding that she went through the classes and immediately started diving.
“It turned out to be truly breath-taking. It’s a different world under there. It’s beautiful and a life altering experience seeing all that mother earth has to offer under water,” says Martha, who now holds a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) licence.
“The last time I went scuba diving was at the Watamu Marine Reserve. I really enjoyed it. I got down with a group of professional Russian divers who came to see what the Kenyan coast offers. I was the only African,” Martha says.
She is not able to scuba dive as much as she would like as life gets in the way. In fact, she is only able to go scuba diving when on vacation, and even that is sometimes not possible as she has a baby.
Still, Martha has done numerous dives and enjoyed each experience. “I not only get to see the beauty under the sea, I meet all kinds of people from all over the world and experience different cultures,” she says.
For those who may be worried about sharks, Martha says scuba divers are trained on what to do in case they encounter a shark.
“It was probably the funniest thing we ever learnt during the whole scuba diving training. I was taught that if I see a shark or sharks circling, I should remain submerged and not rise to the surface until the shark or sharks move on. This is because, while submerged, a shark cannot tell the difference between a human being and a fish. But if I come up to the surface, the shark can tell the difference,” Martha says.
Finding what matters
When asked what she loves most about scuba diving, she says: “It’s not only beautiful going underwater, it also has great benefits for mental health. I do not know how or why but being down there helps to put life into perspective. When I go under it is easy to focus on things that really matter; it is easy to separate what serious matters from simple distractions. Sometimes I go in when I am feeling all this pressure but after the dive, I leave the water with a revelation about what matters, at least for me,” she says.
Nonetheless, despite its many joys and benefits, Martha states that there are many misconceptions about scuba diving.
“There are those who believe that it is too expensive. This is not necessarily true depending on one’s capabilities. It costs about Sh8,000 to go for scuba diving training, and the same people who say it is too expensive will easily spend Sh10,000 in a bar for one night out. Others believe it’s a white man’s activity, but I am an African and I enjoy it,” she says.
Away from scuba diving, Martha also enjoys playing football and basketball, and riding motorbikes.
“I used to ride back when I was in University in Malaysia. After my son was born in 2017, my husband bought me a motorbike as a push gift (to mark the occasion of our son’s birth), a Hero Karizma ZMR. Despite living in Kikuyu and working relatively close, in Westlands, I would spend two hours on the road commuting to and from work and I was still breast feeding and so I began riding to work,” she narrates. “Riding to work allowed me to spend more time with my son as my work commute was cut down from two hours to thirty minutes.”
Martha says there are those who believe riding a motorbike is only for men, or for speed junkies.
Passing the skills
“That is not true I am not a speed junkie; I ride because it is a practical choice especially if you want to save the time you spend commuting. Currently, I do not get to ride to work as I moved to Westlands, which is closer to the office, but we I will soon be moving away so I will be back to riding to work very soon,” she continues. “My husband is very supportive of me riding as long as I have all the gear intact and ride during safe hours.”
Martha, a senior programmes manager at the Safaricom Innovative Team plays football and basketball for the company team. She is also a team manager for a division one basketball team called Footprints. She confesses a supportive family has helped her balance all the things she does.
“I usually have basketball practice on Mondays and football practice on Tuesdays. My husband and son always come to watch me. When I have games on Friday and over the weekend, they also come to cheer me on. In fact, my practice and game days have now become a family event,” she says.
“I chose to do this because I wanted to give back. Doing sports and being active has changed my life. It has taught me life values, which I continue to use with everything from team work, to discipline, to perseverance and much more,” she says.
“These are things I would probably not have learnt anywhere else. I want to pass it on to the next generation. I chose to manage the basketball team because I wanted to be a mentor.”, 34, visited Sarawak, a coastal area in East Malaysia, she met a professional scuba diver who made an eye-opening revelation to her.
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