“I could not believe that I was actually in Mogadishu. I looked at the ocean, raised my hands up and inhaled the fresh, natural and unpolluted air. It was a magical moment,” these were the exact words of 59-year-old Asli Hassan Abade, Somali’s first and only female pilot.
Abade left Somalia in the 1970s to train as a pilot in Italy and later moved to the United States. She returned to her native land to join the Somali Air Force and started flying planes in 1976.
Africa News reports that she visited Somalia in July 2017 for the second time in six years. In 2011 she flew into Mogadishu to deliver medical supplies to the Forlanini (Lazaretto) Children’s Hospital as the country was grappling with its worst famine in many years.
Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Press and Public Relations wing led the congratulatory messages for Abade.
“I did not have the liberty to move around Mogadishu like I am doing now, or talk to the media.
“There were several former colleagues, officers and pilots, waiting to receive me at the airport. I cried, and they all got emotional and cried with me. When I stepped out of the plane, I first kissed the ground, she said.
Somalia was ranked 5th in a poll showing the worst places in the world to be a woman because women still face issues like female genital manipulation, famine, drought etc.
Women in Somalia form a key part of Somali society, with clearly defined and important roles in the family and clan structure.