“I look at the fact that when I am in the airplane, 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,” says Second Lieutenant Thokozile Muwamba.
Muwamba just made history and broke many stereotypes by becoming the first female pilot for the Zambia Air Force (ZAF). The 24-year-old is a second lieutenant of ZAF. She is just as good as any other pilot the air force has; gender notwithstanding. The stride she has made in qualifying to become a pilot warrants recognition as she is the first woman to do so. No doubt her achievement will inspire more women to follow suit and even reach greater achievements that for long have been presumed to be preserved only for men.
Muwamba was born in 1992, in a family of six. She completed her junior secondary at Kasisi and her senior secondary at David Kaunda Technical High. After high school, she took a bold step that seemed to defy every norm, given in her society the woman’s place is in the kitchen and looking after the kids. So what business did she have in an aeronautics class?
The first course she took at the Copperbelt University (CBU) was a Degree in Mathematics and Science, but that was not her passion. She stopped after just one academic year in 2011 and chose a path that was in line with her dream career. In 2012, when she heard ZAF advertising of recruitment of new cadets, Muwamba quit her university education, having only undergone just one academic year as a Mathematics and Science student. She applied for the air force division of the military and was lucky enough to be selected.
Muwamba says her first encounter with the ZAF interviewer in Kitwe during the army recruitment program was very encouraging. She recalls being told that being a fighter pilot was not an easy task; it entails many supersonic challenges. She told the interviewer that all she ever wanted was to become a fighter pilot and fly a plane for the military.
After the ZAF recruitment interview, Muwamba waited for her confirmation, and she was very excited when the letter for her confirmation into ZAF came through. Her childhood fantasy was coming into reality.
Muwamba went through the regular ZAF military training and later went through the flying training. Though she admits learning how to fly was not an easy task, she pulled through with any grace as any other cadet that joined the air force. She recalls her first flight was nerve wrecking, though she managed to gather the courage to pull through and execute the flight safely.