One of the rarest professions in Africa to see women fully involved in the Air Force. Few countries in Africa have handful of women as fighter pilots. Nigeria, in 2012, had her first ever female fighter pilot in person of Blessing Liman and she was the first woman in West Africa to pursue a career in the art of fighter jet piloting.
History has been made again in Zambia as 24-year-old Second Lieutenant Thokozile Muwamba becomes the country’s first ever female fighter pilot to be accepted into a military field dominated by males.
Thokozile Muwamba joined the military in 2012 after quitting as a first-year student at the Copperbelt University (CBU) to join the military and pursue her dream career of being a pilot, and she was privileged to be drafted into Zambian Air Force programme meant to train aspiring female pilots in order to close the gender gap that has lingered in that area of the military in the country.
While speaking to a Zambian based media, Times of Zambia, Muwamba said:
“Men are not a competition but counterparts that one should work with, and hence women should begin to participate and realise their abilities. Because of this understanding, I am ready to undertake this task ahead of me.
“I look at the fact that when I am in the aeroplane, the aircraft knows no sex as it depends on my input even if I am a woman. I can also give it the right steering for it to respond correctly.” Muwamba added.
The Zambian Air Force commander Lieutenant General Eric Mwaba Chimese announced in 2015 their decision to introduce female pilots to boost the fight for gender equality in Zambia.
According to Brigadier-General Kapungwe, who is the commander of the ZAF base in Mumbwa, having Second Lieutenant Muwamba as the first female fighter pilot is a clear illustration that women were progressing.
“We want to see more women in the country to become fighter pilots in future,” the paper quotes him.
Thokozile Muwamba said she owed her success to hardwork, determination and inspiration from her family and instructors.
She said: “Impossibilities can be made possible as long as one was determined to attain one’s goal,” she advised other women.
Africa has only a handful of female pilots especially in the Air Force. Below are the names of other female pilots from the continents.
Asnath Mahapa – South Africa
Chinyere Kalu – Nigeria
Esther Mbabazi – Rwanda
Patricia Mawuli – Ghana
Irene Koki Mutungi – Kenya
Ouma Laouali – Niger