Gugu sails on a crest as hard work pays off

2011-08-06 17:29

For many young women, falling pregnant while still at school means the end of their career hopes.

Not so for Gugu Dube (35) of Inanda, Durban, who, despite falling pregnant at the age of 15, is one of only three black women to have qualified as a marine pilot.

Dube, the mother of a 20-year-old daughter, has a licence which allows her to pilot any size of ship in and out of Durban harbour.

She always wanted to become a teacher and managed to qualify, but spent two years jobless after finishing her teaching diploma. Then a friend told her about the maritime studies course.

“I didn’t take it seriously at first but because I was unemployed, I thought: Why not? People would say I chose the wrong career but I strived,” she said.

She said her mother didn’t understand what she was studying, but she never discouraged her and constantly gave her support.

The closest Dube had been to a marine vessel was watching them from the beach as they sailed into Durban harbour.

“I didn’t know anything about ships, but because I knew what I wanted, against all odds I made it,” she said.

Dube and colleagues Bongiwe Mbambo (29) and Pinky Zungu (28) – the other two black women who have qualified as marine ­pilots – are now planning to complete their harbour master’s qualification.

Says Dube: “South Africa’s women are no longer stuck in the kitchen. We are out there and challenging the world. We are taking all the opportunities we were deprived of. We only need to use them productively.”

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