Do you remember your childhood dream career? I vividly remember mine, including the unfortunate events that separated me from the career I had dreamt of for more than 15 years.
From a young age, I wanted to become a pilot. It wasn't a particularly unique career dream. Nearly half of the people I schooled with, mentioned being a pilot as their dream job at one point or another. However, unlike most of them, my eyes were firmly set on one career dream. No amendments along the way.
This was reflected in the toys my parents bought me and the makeshift toys I made for myself when I got to that age. In my teens, my wardrobe was full of those half-sleeved shirts that have an epaulette - inspired by the pilot uniforms.
While in high school, I was active in reading novels and watching movies about pilots and the aviation industry in general. I was also the foremost expert in high school barazas on any topic involving planes. I would often be called in to decide an argument between two groups.
Sometimes it was about the fastest aircraft ever made, the debate on the Boeing and the Airbus - whatever it was, I was trusted to give the final verdict. To date, many of my high school friends fondly refer to me as captain - in reference to my childhood passion.
I did not just concentrate on general knowledge of aviation. I read hard in class, especially in Mathematics and Physics, in preparation for admission to flying school. I woke up early, revised, dotted every i, and crossed all the ts.
When the final exam came, I gave an impressive performance and attained an A- of 74 points in my KCSE. I also got a straight A in maths and physics - the future was looking great.
Flying schools are quite expensive. My eyes were set on getting a scholarship to a flying school since my parents were not in a financial position to sponsor my education.
I had already reached the minimum grade requirement to qualify for an application, I crossed my fingers as I waited for the process to be opened.
After I cleared my KCSE in 2012, I landed a job as an untrained teacher as I waited to join university - or flying school - whichever came first. One morning, Mrs Katwa, the school librarian who knew of my interest, interrupted my lunch break.
“It seems you are in luck, the airline has advertised positions for pilot trainees, have a look at today’s newspaper.”
As expected, the region’s leading airline had announced a pilot trainee program at a flying school in Cape Town. I made the application as per the newspaper advert and made a quick prayer.
A month later, Mrs Katwa knocked on my door, mid-way into a maths class with Form 2 students.
“Your name is in the newspaper, they have picked you!”
My heart nearly skipped a beat before I realised that the announcement indicated that I had been shortlisted to take an aptitude test - not admitted. But I was confident I would ace it.
A few weeks later, I travelled to Nairobi and sat the aptitude test for a gruelling three hours. The airline staff assured us that we would be informed of the next steps in the coming days.
Days passed and became weeks. No news. My mornings started with a visit to the school library. I would ask for the day’s paper to verify if there was any news from the airline.
After three months, I had started to give up. I consoled myself that the best strategy would be to study a more mainstream course, get a job and self-sponsor my education at a local flying school.
One Saturday evening, I was going through my documents when I noticed I had noted down a phone number belonging to one of the applicants I had befriended while taking the aptitude test.
His name was Victor. At the time, my kabambe’s memory was full and could not save his number so I wrote it down. I had planned to save it after deleting some of the old contacts but completely forgot when I returned home.
“Hello Victor, this is Brian, we met pale Embakasi for the aptitude test ya pilots. I was wondering if you ever heard from them?” I enquired.
“Oo, how are you Brayo? I actually didn’t qualify. I got the regret letter via email, they didn’t get back to you?...”
I was surprised because I had not checked my email for months. Since I did not have a smartphone or a computer, I rarely checked my emails unless I was expecting some communication.
I had expected the final outcome to be done via the newspaper, but it seemed this had not been the case. I rushed to the nearby shopping centre and straight to the cyber cafe. Upon opening my email, I was surprised to find a congratulatory email from the airline.
“Dear candidate, Congratulations! You have been accepted into our pilots’ trainee programme. Please come for a physical check up as a final step before we can kick start the visa application process,” the email read in part.
But there was a problem. The email was 7 weeks old. In fact, it appeared the admission dates indicated in the email had lapsed.
The next Monday, I spent the entire day at the airline’s head office. The hiring personnel were sympathetic but informed me that there was nothing they could do.
My slot had already been passed on to another candidate after I failed to show up. They encouraged me to give it a try the following year. I wasn’t lucky.
As I left Nairobi that evening, I passed by Moi Avenue and bought a smartphone after withdrawing most of my savings from the teaching gig - the eyebrow-raising Huawei IDEOS. At the time, this smartphone was a big deal. I was determined to never miss another opportunity because of not being connected technologically.
It's now over nine years since I missed that scholarship. I trained as an engineer and have been paying my flying school classes from my savings. One day at a time.
And I still treasure my smartphones! All those years since, smartphones have advanced in capabilities, phone cameras rivalling professional studio cameras, storage as high as 128gb and day-long battery life. This is as compared to my IDEOS days.
So important is the smartphone in everyday life that when I recently lost my Samsung in the middle of the month, I had to find the quickest way to replace it - or risk losing out on money-making deals.
This was in March this year when I was too broke mid-month after putting my money in a renovation project I was so passionate about.
I could not risk being offline even for a week and so when I heard about the new Mogo Smartphone Loan which allowed me to acquire a new Samsung A14 with 4GB of Ram and 128GB of storage, I didn’t hesitate. I only had to give Ksh5,500 as a down payment and pay Ksh800 weekly.
Now, what really sold me to sign up for this arrangement was the fact that Mogo Smartphone Loans allow early repayment with no penalties. You only pay back the full principal and the interest that has accrued up to the day you are planning to clear the balance.
This is as compared to other loan products that require you to pay the full interest whether you pay after 10 weeks or 52 weeks. So you save money.
And I am sure you already guessed what I did. I took out the loan on the 13th of March 2023. When my client paid up the full amount for the renovation job last week, I took part of the money and last Monday, May 15, I cleared my balance - 10 weeks in!
The growth in smartphone financing is incredible. If only I had this option during my days as an untrained teacher, I would have taken advantage of many online opportunities without spending much. Maybe I would be in an Airbus cockpit right now!
If you are looking to acquire a new smartphone or upgrade, you could consider the new Mogo Smartphone Loan and acquire a brand new device from as low as Ksh550 per week.
Learn more in detail>> Money254 Review: All About the Mogo Smartphone Loan