In Doha, Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo, a Nigerian female pilot etched a record of her own. She is the first Nigerian female pilot to be hired by Qatar Airways and she will be flying the big bird, the Dreamliner Boeing 787.
Living Her Dreams
The place of the female pilot in African socio-political context is subjective. One account has Asli Hassan Abade of Somali as the first female African pilot, trained in the 1970s and her first solo flight in 1976. Another account credited Ghanaian Millicent Melody Danquah as the first female pilot after she flew solo for the first time in a de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk aircraft in 1964.
Quite few other versions abound, but that of Danquah has been severally repeated, making her more prominent as the authentic first female African aviator. From Nigeria, Chinyere Kalu was recorded the first Nigerian female commercial pilot in 1978, thereby making her part of the first wave of African female pilots but not the first female pilot in Africa.
For African women, history shows that it took a very long time for them to enjoy basic human rights. Through the fight for equality and provision of human rights and privileges to women in society, they have proven that they are a force to reckon with and a setback is no reason not to rise as fast they can. They have also proven that they are capable of achieving incredible feats across many industries.
In recent times, African women are leading and dominating the spaces they find themselves but only a few are making waves in male-dominated industries. Many trailblazers have accomplished in the field of sports, business, and medicine and so on. Now, a Nigerian trailblazer, Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo has emerged in the aviation industry.
An indigene of Ogbomosho, Oyo State, Sowemimo, the Nigerian pilot is married with kids; a true inspiration for Nigerian women to pursue their dreams despite having a family. It may be tough but the rewards can be truly fulfilling. The graduate of Ladoke Akintola University in the ancient town of Ogbomosho is married to Seunfunmi Olamilekan Sowemimo.
Sowemimo becomes the first Nigerian female pilot to work at Qatar Airways; likewise, the first Nigerian female pilot on the gigantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft. According to reports, she is also the first Nigerian woman pilot to fly the Boeing 767 Aircraft across the Atlantic.
She now joins the likes of Kenya’s Captain Irene Koki Mutungi, Ethiopia’s Captain Amsale Gulau and a few other African women like Captain Aluel Bol Aluenge who fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Captain Mutungi was only 17 when she etched her name in Kenyan history as the first female pilot in 1993. Twenty-one years later, the determined woman once again left her mark in history as the first female pilot in Africa to be certified as a Captain of the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft.
Koki ventured into an occupation that was dominated by men at a time when women in Kenya and Africa were discouraged from venturing into science and engineering.
For Captain Aluenge, she defied all odds by becoming a pilot in the airline industry after living as a refugee in Kenya during the ethnic and political conflict of South Sudan.
She holds the distinction of being the first female South Sudanese pilot working for Ethiopian Airlines and Fly Dubai. Aluel Bol made history in 2011. She had worked at Ethiopian Airlines and Fly Dubai before joining Delta Airline.