Aviation, Aeronautics: No Longer A Male Preserve
Over the years, a handful of Cameroonian women have joined the prestigious class of those who facilitate, fly or ensure the maintenance of aircraft.
Better described as mid-career professionals, they sit each working day engrossed in piles of paper before them. Their roles differ a bit, but all have to do with preparing, facilitating or flying aircraft. “What she does determines how smooth aircraft fly in the country,” comments a colleague on the work of Afouba Ngayihi Marietta Séraphine, a Civil Aviation Engineer with specialisation in Air Traffic Management, serving with the Ministry of Transport in Yaounde.
A graduate of the National Civil Aviation College, Toulouse, France, Afouba Ngayihi is today Head of the Norms Unit, Department of Civil Aviation in the ministry. Though still looking girlish, Afouba today boasts 10 years of on-the-job aviation experience. Previously a Computer Engineering graduate of the National Advanced School of Engineering, Yaounde, where she put in five years, Afouba later proceeded to France where she did two years of specialisation to become an Air Traffic Management Engineer.
Cameroonian women studied in the same school include Koki Avomo Assoumou Paule, General Manager of the Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority, CCAA and Essimi Léopoldine, a Civil Aviation Engineer with CCAA. Prior to taking over from Pierre Tankam as General Manager of CCAA on December 30, 2015, Avomo Assoumou Paule, 49, was Director of Air Safety with the same organisation. With 26 years of experience, the senior Civil Aviation Engineer was described by Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o, the Minister of Transport, during her inauguration on December 30, 2015, as “an engineer of high calibre.”
Essimi Léopoldine is Sub-Director for Human Resources with CCAA. On the other hand, Christine Njeuma Bonbankal in January 2002, then 29, made history by becoming the first ever Cameroonian female pilot when she was recruited by the defunct national carrier, Cameroon Airlines, Camair. She is today a co-pilot for Boeing 737-700 with Cameroon Airlines Corporation, Camair-Co.
Meanwhile, in the Cameroon Air Force, Captain Mbateng Houba Liliane, an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, is among the few women in the corps of aviation and aeronautics. She is a former shot put athlete. Flight Lieutenant Mirabel Charlotte Mewouo, is a pilot with several years of experience to her credit. She is also an officer of the Cameroon Air Force.