Captain Chipo Matimba Zimbabwe Pilot

Mandishona Donson Matimba and Anne Chipoyera of Harare raised nine children, the five girls were treated equally with boys as roles in the household were not allocated according to gender.

Then, girls would ride roughshod over bikes and were allowed the adventures now mostly attributable to boys in our highly conservative society, to the extent that even venturing up trees with four of her brothers never constituted an issue .

Resultantly, one of the five girls grew up confident that she could do anything that boys could, even with more zeal and dexterity.

Today Chipo Matimba is a pilot with Air Zimbabwe.

“Soon after High School, I saw an advert for Air Force of Zimbabwe trainee pilots and I applied. l went through the recruitment formalities in 1994. The military training was gruesome but certainly not insurmountable. Being pioneers in this male dominated environment was a challenge, as many logistical changes had to be summounted in order to accommodate female cadets,” she said.

“The first six months was militarily training and the next six was ground school which comprises theory in aviation studies. The 12 months that followed covered flying lessons in general, handling instruments, navigation, formation and aerobatic flying.”

Growing up as a bright little girl from Belvedere Primary School and Harare Girls High, Captain Matimba was, besides that, just an ordinary young woman. Today she commands respect as one of six of Zimbabwe’s female pilots, others being captain Emilia Njovani, Merna Moore, Chipo Gatsi, Elizabeth Chikumba and Sithandekile Dube.

She talks of her first experience with the plane.

“Being in control of an aeroplane was an exhilarating experience, and ironically something almost beyond sensationalism. The first aircraft I ever flew was the Siai Marchetti SF260, also known as the Genet. It was a familiarisation flight where I was given control of the plane just to get a feel of the aircraft.

Matimba epitomises women who know what they want and have vigorously pursued it without making patriarchy a scapegoat for goal attainment.

Today marks the International Women’s Day, a day being celebrated across the globe under the theme: Inspiring Change. Its main thrust is challenging the masculine status quo and guarantee equality among all of God’s creation.

“The society in general, and my male counterparts in particular, accepted my venturing into military aviation, a career once only stereotyped for men and I feel very much at home in the aviation fraternity.  From my experience as both a military and an airline pilot, I believe any woman with focus and determination can take up the challenge.  All that’s needed is a lot of hard work and dedication,” she said.

“In the past, women were marginalised in many professions. With the advent of gender equality any woman can tackle any field successfully without fear of chauvinism.  Lets stand up fellow ladies and be both seen and heard.”


Labels: , , ,