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Maira El-Kanemi: Young Princess Living Her Dream in the Skies

“Flying is not about whether the pilot is a man or a woman. It is about the results of the actions imposed by the pilot and the responses returned by the aircraft. The aircraft does not know or understand gender. It only knows the difference in a true pilot, and one who was perhaps not meant to fly.” Says young Maira Bashir El-Kanemi, a princess of the Kanuri royal family of Borno. She is a pilot of Boeing 737, as well as a certified drone pilot. She started flying airplanes at the age of 17 and by the age of 18, she is a qualified pilot.

Meet Maira Bashir Elkenami. A brave girl not lazing around the palace barking orders to attendants. She, from childhood, dreamt of becoming a captain and pilot, and despite the subliminal deterrence against women achievement in a more or less male dominated profession, her resolve is never in doubt and she is blazing her way through it all, not letting the obstacles stop her or douse her desire to achieve her visions. Her determination and success is an inspiration to every girl child.

There are more than four million Kanuri, within Nigeria and the neighbouring countries, who still have the utmost regard and reference for the Borno Empire. Although nowadays ceremonial, the districts within the Borno Empire are still headed by traditional rulers called ‘Shehu’. The Borno kingdom has existed since 1000s but attained its highest echelon of glory after the ascension of Mohammed Al-Amin El-Kanemi in the 1800s. His family and descendants have ruled over Borno since then. Most of the Shehus in the districts within the Borno Empire today, are descended from him. Including Maira.

The Kanuri are not known for apparent discrimination against women.

In a related development, the Federal Republic of Nigeria can now train Boeing 737 pilots locally. This much is possible due to President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s decision to get a Boeing 737 Full Flight Training Simulator. Nigeria, due to lack of Full Flight Training Simulators, had her domestic airlines spending as much as ₦2.5 billion every year to retrain their pilots in South Africa. According to the ministry of Aviation, more than ₦20 billion has been spent by Nigerian airlines to train their pilots in South Africa for the past ten years.

The Full Flight Training Simulator arrived Apapa Port in Lagos, several days ago and are scheduled to be moved to the aviation training centre in Kaduna State.

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