• In Zambia, two young people are bulldozing through traditional barriers to set a new precedent for African youth. At nineteen, Besa Mumba has not only managed to crush the Zambian record but also set a new standard for young women the world over. She is the youngest commercial pilot in Africa, working under Proflight, a hotbed of young talent development in aviation. Before her had come Kalenga Kamwendo who recently hit 1,000 hours of flying with Proflight. He was Zambia’s youngest pilot when he joined Proflight at the age of twenty but a young lady by the name, Besa Mumba has smashed that record and in the process inspired millions of young African ladies.

    Into Besa Mumba’s world in the clouds

    Besa was born in December 1996 in Lusaka. An article by Proflight on her says she began school in 1999 at Sunshine Primary School, then went to St Mary’s before going for flight training in South Africa. She attended the South African Flight Training Academy in Heidelberg where she got her Private Pilot Licence after two years in 2015. She then went for extra training at SIMU Flight in Pretoria where she got her Commercial Pilots Licence in July 2015, at 18. These feats would seem easy on paper but an unbelievable amount of work would have gone into achieving them, particularly at such a tender age. Besa was scooped up by Proflight Zambia as a First Officer in July 2016. Asked what could have inspired her to be a pilot, she said, “Curiosity made me venture into an aviation career. Initially I wanted to be cabin crew but I thought to myself: ‘why not be the person who flies the aircraft?’”

    It all started with curiosity!

    Proflight’s Director of Government and Industry Affairs, Captain Philip Lemba speaking on this young woman who has got Africa talking, said, “Proflight was impressed with Besa’s determination and drive and we believe she has the will to succeed in what is a very competitive industry. We will support Besa all the way, and look forward to her growing her career with us.”

    Any words to inspire others? Besa has a lot. She says, “If you have a dream, work hard you can get to where you want. I feel amazing! I hope the Zambian people will be inspired by my story to also reach for their dreams and goals because I think the sky is not the limit.”

    The sky cannot be the limit when she now stays in it for a living! What a trailblazer!

    Reliving Kalenga Kamwendo’s 1,000 hours in the skies of Zambia

    When Kalenga Kamwendo joined Zambia’s Proflight, he was the country’s youngest pilot. Fortuitously, he got the job on his birthday, talk about a huge birthday present! Kalenga at first aspired to be an engineer but later decided he would become a pilot. He attended an air training school at Port Alfred in Eastern Cape, South Africa, got his private pilot’s licence and by 18, he had his commercial private licence. Recalling his interview, he said, “The interview that only took 10 minutes, felt like it was three hours. I just told myself even if I am nervous I need to do this.”

    He did it and became one of the most inspiring Africans around. His first day as a pilot? He says, “I was nervous; I didn’t even have the full uniform. I was flying to Kasama and had to be up at 4am.”

    That young man who did not have the full uniform has now passed 1,000 hours of flying. Just a year and nine months after he started flying for Proflight, he clocked 1,000 hours. Captain Lemba had words of advice for him and naturally, praise, “It’s quite a milestone for Kalenga, I encourage him to be level-headed, well composed and focused on his career. We as Proflight Zambia praise our young pilots for the hard work he has demonstrated from the time he started as a commercial pilot a year ago.”

    Words of inspiration? Like Besa, Kalenga has some really wise nuggets of wisdom to share. In his words, “Be the best you can be, reach for the stars for that when you fall, you land on the clouds. Let us pursue perfection so that in our short comings we would have at least achieved excellence. There is no reason in waiting for someone to help you when you can do something yourself.”

    It is not a coincidence that Besa and Kalenga’s words of inspiration have something to do with the skies. These two have conquered them. A remarkable lady and outstanding young man are redefining African youths. They have led the charge and are passing the baton. Now is the time for African young people to prove their worth and take over.