The inauguration of a President is always feted as an auspicious occasion filled with pomp, glory, and colour. Normally, it is expected that the President is the one who dominates the spotlight. This was not the case during the inauguration of South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa. He was not the only man of the hour as female pilots took centre stage during the air display at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria during his inauguration on Saturday.
The female pilots among them Commander Nandi Zama, the first black female Commander of C130 and Major Mandisa Nomcebo Mfeka, the country's first black female combat fighter pilot took to the skies in a hawk's formation as they showcased the capability of the South African Air Force and saluted their new commander-in-chief.
Following their participation in the inauguration, the pilots have received praises from all parts of the country with many on social media applauding Major Mfeka for breaking stereotypes. Major Mfeka first joined the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 2008. In 2010, she enrolled at the Central Flying School in Langebaan in the Western Cape and in 2011 she received her wings.
Female combat pilots and air force commanders are rare and far between not only in many African countries but the world over. The few that have broken into the male-dominated and challenged the stereotypes surrounding female combat pilots deserve to be feted. The fact that they are getting the recognition that they so well deserve goes to demonstrate the progress that our societies have made and continue to make. The training of airforce combat pilots is one of the hardest in the world and Commander Zama and Major Mfeka are true representations that women can excel in any field that they choose. With more women daring into the STEM fields, the 'sky is only the baseline' as the possibilities are endless.
Header Image Credit: South Africa's first black female combat pilot Major Mfeka/uncensored opinion