Yichida Ndlovu is Zambia’s first female non-military pilot. After completing her secondary school education, she was admitted to the School of Natural Sciences (NS) at the University of Zambia (UNZA) in 1977.
Soon after school, she underwent six month training at the Zambia National Service (ZNS) youth training programme, before being admitted to UNZA.
Her first employment as a pilot was in 1981 to 1991 when she worked for Roan Air, before joining the Government.
At the time of her admission to UNZA, she had also qualified for a Government scholarship to pursue engineering studies in Russia.
“I saw an advertisement in one of the local newspapers, calling for people interested in civil aviation to apply to the Zambia Air Services Training Institute (ZASTI) for interviews.
“When I told my father about it, he answered me using an old bemba adage ‘chimbwi afwile intangalala’, literally meaning wanting to eat with both hands, never took the hyena anywhere.
This was her father’s response to her pending acceptance to study engineering in Russia.
“The media advertisement just offered a perfect fit. I did not even look back or even think twice. I seized the opportunity and decided I would go for the interviews.”
When she eventually got to ZASTI for the student interviews, she was the only female candidate. After having attended the interviews at ZASTI, she also applied to the Zambia Air Force (ZAF), to train as a military pilot, but she did not receive an affirmative response.
After getting the long awaited response from ZASTI, some of the male folks were not pleased to have Yichida as their counterpart, but this did not stop her because she had determination and family support as the pillars of strength she needed to forge ahead.
She also encountered some harsh remarks from some of her male colleagues who would utter remarks suggesting that she was just an overzealous young lady who would not make it to the end of her studies.
“Whenever I could miss out on anything that the lecturer would mention in class, I would not even dare to ask any of my male counterparts because I knew that their response would only be bent on dampening my spirits.”
The fact that she could not get any help from her course mates meant she needed to put in extra efforts to ensure that she did not lag behind.
Perseverance and determination were the only tools she adopted to ensure that she broke through this male dominated career.
Today, she stands proud as having made history in Zambia, being the first female pilot and she believes that each person has a God appointed assignment to accomplish.
“Whenever I felt that I could not go on, I fell back on my biblical teachings which suggest that no one can take away from my blessings that are mine,” she says.
Yichida now works for the Ministry of Communications, Transport, Works and Supply, where she has currently been seconded to the Zambia Flying Doctor Service in Ndola.
She is married to a medical doctor, Enock Ndlovu, and the couple is blessed with three children.