MATHS and SCIENCE nominees announced!

Excitement is mounting as we announce our Mathematics and Science Nominees! Here are the names:

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng:

Engineering (9)

Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng began her term of office as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town on 1 July 2018, where she had been serving as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation since January 2017. Previous to this appointment she served as Vice Principal for Research and Innovation at the University of South Africa (Unisa) for five years, after serving three years as Executive Dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at the same university. She holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a highly regarded B1 NRF-rated scientist with over 60 research papers and five edited volumes published. In July 2019 she was awarded an Honorary DSc degree from Bristol University. She has been invited to deliver over 40 keynote/plenary talks at international conferences, and as a visiting professor in

Tamara Mkula:

Engineering (10)

Tamara is the Founder of Bubbly Bunnies Academy and Co-Founder of Amaxesibe Technologies (PTY) Ltd. Currently working on her PhD proposal for 2020, this comes after she has been awarded her Master’s Degree on 10 April 2019. Her passion for Education made her realize that there is a need to introduce MATHS, SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY in the ECD level. She is working with teachers at her school in ensuring that we equip the little ones with MATHS, SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY skills at a very young age for them to cope better in higher classes. She has also worked at the ICT environment for 12 years as the Information Security Risk Specialist and has shared her research work on stages such as IT Web Security Summit and ISF (Information Security Forum) sharing knowledge on Security topics with other Security Professionals from local and International companies

Songo Didiza:

science (3)

Songo is an energy economist and a green building expert who founded the Green Building Design Group (GreenBDG) as a solution to close knowledge gap in the green economy, as well as an opportunity to promote real economic growth within the green economy in South Africa.

Her work in the green economy includes facilitation of green energy investments worth over R17 billion from integrated clean energy and energy efficiency investments which led to the creation of over 10 000 jobs in the green manufacturing and related services sectors, respectively.

She has been voted Sub-Saharan Africa’s Energy Innovator of the Year by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) in 2019. The award ceremony will take place in Washington DC in September.

She currently serves as a Research Committee member of the Property Sector Charter Council and is a business mentor of several start-up initiatives within the clean technology industry.

Zulaka Khan:

science (4)

Zulaka Khan is the founder of the Verulam Dialysis Centre.

She studied towards a B.Tech in Clinical Technology specializing in Nephrology and graduated with cum laude from the Durban University of Technology.

She was awarded the Minara Chamber of Commerce Business Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 as well as the 2018 Business Women of the Year Award for the Business Womens Association of South Africa.She was awarded in 2018 the Business women of the year finalist for the Minara Chamber of Commerce Awards.

Charmaine Kahiya:

science (8)

Charmaine Kahiya is a medical scientist who is passionate about drug discovery, and is focused on Africans finding natural/organic solutions for African health issues, to which effect some of her work has been published. She has worked for a leading Biomedical research institute (focused on infectious disease research especially (HIV), African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST), and under them conducted joint projects with organizations such as Merck and Norvatis. Her work in the battle against HIV employs the use of computational biology/chemistry techniques and pharmacogenomics. She is currently With the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit (a leading HIV/TB drug discovery research unit at UKZN), where she recently completed her masters. She is building on her masters research for her PhD (the study detailed the design of an organic potential HIV-1 C(SA) protease inhibitor and is under consideration for patent due to its promise). She mentors young girls in STEM through organizations such as Elevate STEM network and and is a resource under 500womeninscience’s Women in STEM database and hopes to start a 500WS pod in Africa soon. To demystify science and encourage the young especially, under privileged High school students, she was also a mentor for the Next Generation Biomedical Scientist initiative under AiBST. Her advocacy also targets educating the general populace on the power of science and she was part of the “Green Planet” documentary by the National Biotech Authority of Zimbabwe highlighting the impact of biotechnology as well as working with them and NEPAD SanBio to setup the first Bioinformatics Symposium in Zimbabwe in 2016. She believes each one of us must endeavor to leave legacy of service to humanity and she chooses science to be her medium.



The Womandla – Women in STEM Awards shines a light on the achievements of women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries and recognises excellence among those who strive to make a positive difference in the community.

Nominations can be sent for entrepreneurs or professionals of any related organisation, from all industries and from the private and public sectors.

Nedbank Women in stem awards


Date: 17 August 2019

Venue: The Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town

Time: 09h00am-12h00pm


Banking Details:

Womandla Foundation NPC. FNB Business Acc 62811072876

Reference: YOUR NAME, STEM

The sky isn’t the limit, it’s my office!

We are often told that the sky is the limit. Oyama Matomela, a commercial pilot license holder at 22, South African brand ambassador and strong believer in our living God disputes this, saying it’s more like her office. She is a loving, fun person, with a whole lot of spunk. She believes that laughing is one of the best things on earth and describes herself as sassy, driven, goal-orientated and ambitious beyond her abilities (sometimes). She is added to the ever-growing list of Sorority Sayings contributors, and this is what she had to say!


SS: When did you realize that you wanted to be a pilot?

OM: Early memories of family trips taken to the Port Elizabeth International Airport to watch in fascination while the aircrafts take-off and land, brought to me an unimaginable dire need to venture into Aviation and Piloting in my teen years

SS:When did you qualify?

OM: The Department of Roads and Transport of The Eastern Cape awarded me a bursary to commence my initial pilot training (theoretical and practical) at 43 Air School, Port Alfred in January of 2010. A life-changing year and eight months was spent in what was the most challenging and seemingly impossible experience that without a doubt tested my passion for flying. This tested me, drove me to work harder than I ever thought I could. There was no limit I would not stretch to, to achieve my goal of becoming a multi-engine, instrument rated commercial pilot in August of 2011.

SS: What where the biggest obstacles to obtaining your wings?

OM: It became difficult for a low hour pilot such as myself, to find a job in this ever growing Aviation Industry. In December 2012, I self-studied gearing myself to write the Airline Transport Pilot License Examinations in March 2012 which I did and successfully passed all of them.I then enrolled for the September 2012 Grade III Flight Instructor Rating course (fixed wing) with the aid of The Department of Roads and Transport of The Eastern Cape, which I successfully completed and became a qualified Grade III Flight Instructor in December 2012.

SS: Please share some of the struggles that women face in this industry.

OM: As females we are, for the most part, raised in a different light. Playing with dolls in princess castles rather than being exposed to machinery, while men are generally exposed to racing cars as young boys, this raises the stereotype that compared to men, females do not have the natural ability to fly. As a female pilot in a male dominated industry, you take these stereotypes in your stride and pray more often, work harder, practice discipline and sacrifice your all. With passion, half the battle is won.


SS: You recently won an award, what was it and how were you selected?

OM: I was recently nominated for CEO Communications’ “Most Influential Women in Business and Governance”. I was notified by CEO Communications that I had been nominated. I then had to fill in an extensive questionnaire of my qualifications and role to society in the Aviation Sector. A selection process narrowed the nine thousand nominations and entries to just under one hundred. It was an incredible honour to be nominated for this role and an overwhelming surprise to receive a finalist award in the Aviation Sector.

SS: How do young girls, who look up to you, join the industry?

OM: I would definitely encourage young women and girls to pursue a career in the Aviation industry. Young girls should start off on the right foot at school in concentrating on Mathematics and Science. These are two subjects that sponsorships and bursary benefactors base their selection processes on.

Mostly,as women we shouldn’t limit our dreams. Nothing is impossible, even the word says “I’M POSSIBLE”.


Happy Birthday Captain Ojams! We celebrate you! Keep rocking the runway!