She had just turned 24 when she achieved the ‘impossible’. Thokozile Muwamba rewrote the pages of the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) when in 2016 she was conferred as Zambia’s first female Fighter Pilot. However, to proceed from here without acknowledging her passage to this extraordinary feat would be an injustice to this record maker.
Thokozile was born and raised in the city of Lusaka, Zambia. She undertook her Junior Secondary education at Kasisi Girls prior to completing her Senior Secondary at David Kaunda National Technical High School. After a year’s stint at the Copperbelt University where she was studying Mathematics and Natural Sciences, she was recruited into ZAF in 2012 thanks to her sound academic records.
Thokozile first took to the skies on the SAAB Safari MFI-15 at the ZAF Flying Training School in Livingstone, before transitioning to the SF260TW Aircraft on which she trained in Basic and Advanced Flying. She graduated from her training top of her class and was unsurprisingly selected as the Best Pilot Student in her intake. Consequently, Thokozile was on merit and alongside her male counterparts recommended to fly a fighter aircraft. Fighter Pilots are military men and women that defend our skies and borders in times of war or conflict, whilst flying armed planes.
As the first female Fighter Pilot in Zambia’s history, the airspace pioneer begun her career as a Fighter Pilot on the K-8 Aircraft. At the moment, she is a ZAF Captain flying the L-15 Fighter Ground Attack Aircraft. Thokozile shared with the NYDC that, “The conducive atmosphere and platform created by ZAF coupled with my individual determination and discipline have brought me to where I am today. I believe my story has just begun and I am greatly motivated to work hard and achieve more in a male-dominated career”.
Thokozile further shared that it was not until she completed her Conversion Flying Course that she was hit by the realisation of the important duty she carries as a role model and beacon of inspiration to all youth that are in school or are still discovering their careers. Her professional goal is to head a Fighter Squadron as well as become a Qualified Flying Instructor. “Then I will proudly have the privilege to impart knowledge to young pilots especially female ones”, she said.
Outside her profession, the ZAF Captain has gradually lent her prised time by leading Career Talks at schools and recently in January, joined Calo Cesu at one of their community-based activities at Mthunzi Community Centre in Chilanga District. Calo Cesu is an offspring of the USAID-funded Youth Lead Activity Programme co-implemented by the NYDC and FHI 360. The youth-led group focuses on training youth in Climate Smart Agriculture.
For the future, indeed the sky is no limit for Captain Muwamba and she is just getting started because now she is embarking on probably her biggest community challenge yet. She has partnered, as a Brand Ambassador, with a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) called Cyber Hygiene Zambia. The NGO endeavours to sanitise Zambia’s cyberspace and sensitise internet users on how to use the internet prudently. As an Ambassador, she has challenged herself to execute a Cyberbullying Awareness Walk from Lusaka to Livingstone! She will take her first step on 20th February, 2021.
Having schooled and now working in male-dominated environments, one could say that Thokozile is truly a professional daredevil who likes to look the devil straight in the eyes. Her advice to female youth and women is that, “They should be resilient and hardworking. Don’t expect things to be handed to you on a silver platter, and the people you surround yourself with matter”.
To keep up with Thokozile and participate in her Cyberbullying Walk, please contact her on: