JONATHAN JANSEN: The struggles and triumphs of the pilot with the hijab
'There’s nothing more exhilarating as when I advance the thrust levers for the takeoff and I hear the sound of the engines spooling up'
Her Belhar high school was a typically dysfunctional Cape Flats institution with disruptive children, inattentive teachers and only two unbroken windowpanes in her classroom. Unsurprisingly, her academic results suffered so, as Jakoet does, she repeated her matric subjects with high hopes of still getting admission to medical school.
But her toughest struggle for admission was to the cockpit. Over and over again Fatima Jakoet, like so many female professionals breaking into once all-male occupations, would have her “Ashwin moment”. She was black. She was a woman. She was Muslim. She wore a hijab. Why, I asked, did she not give up on this long and difficult road to the cockpit? “Flying is a passion; it’s in my bIood; and I wanted to fly the national flag,” was her simple answer.