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Nandi Zama

Major Nandi Zama is an esteemed military pilot in the South African Air Force who is recognised as the first black woman in history of South Africa to command and fly a Hercules C-130 cargo plane. Originally from KwaZulu Natal, Major Nandi joined the SANDF in 2004, completing her BSc Military Academy soon after. She received her “wings” in 2006 and has since continued to loyally serve in the South African Air Force (SAAF), accumulating a total of 2 100 hours of active flight. All this has been achieved just before her 33rd birthday.

A motivator and public speaker Major Nandi has addressed numerous public and private audiences as she shares her journey. She frequently engages with young school children, particularly young girls, and encourages them to explore careers in aviation and other technical fields. She has been a guest on national radio and television, reaching millions of South African’s with her inspiring career.

With an interest in aviation that began during her teenage years, Major Nandi has flown various types of aircrafts, the most recent being the Hercules C130BZ which is the most tactical airlifter in global military standards. She acknowledges the role that Mathematics and Science played in her early years of the military; and remains an advocate of these subject whenever she engages with young people.

Through her continued commitment to education, women’s equality and serving her nation, Major Nandi is set to continue on the path that she has forged; not only for herself but also for current and future female members of the SANDF.

Through Inspiring Fifty, Major Nandi hopes to reach and connect with more women in STEM, primarily to add her voice towards stimulating the growth of these industries by encouraging fellow women and young girls to pursue careers in the sector.