Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Tadalisika Zulu: An Ambitious Young Zambian Engineer

By Paul Shalala

Tadalisika Zulu with Minister of Infrastracture Charles Milupi
when he toured the KK International Airport project site

She was born on the 12th of October 1998 in Lusaka

Tadalisika Zulu is a third born child in a family of four.

Growing up, mathematics was her favourite subject and she says she enjoyed doing calculations.

Her performance in class made her attempt what was not imagined at the time.

“At the age of 10, I attempted the Grade 7 exams as a 5th Grader in 2008. I passed the exams and I went to St. Mary’s Secondary School in Lusaka for Grade eight. I later went to St. Monica’s Secondary School in Chipata for my Senior Secondary,” she said in an interview.

Tadalisika completed Grade 12 at the age of 15, three years ahead of what mostly consider the normal age for a Sugo in Zambia.

“I turned 15 years a week after I started writing the Grade 12 examinations. My love for mathematics increased throughout high school and it became my best subject. I was so confident in my skills that I was looking forward to writing the math exam because I knew it would be an automatic distinction.”

As expected Tadalisika, got a distinction in mathematics.

While awaiting her Grade 12 results, Tadalisika was in deep thoughts, trying to gather her thoughts on which course to pursue.

Her best two courses were Aeronautics or Civil Engineering because they both involve mathematics and creativity.

Tadalisika supervising some workers

During her gap year, she lived with her family in Kabompo District of North Western Province.

While in Kabompo, Tadalisika noticed the lack of proper infrastructure and this made her resolve to pursue engineering even stronger.

In 2015, she enrolled at Wuhan University of Technology and four years later, she graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering.

“I returned to Zambia and began my internship at the Department of Public Infrastructure under the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development. As an intern, I worked on several projects before I was appointed as the Clerk of Works at the New China-Aided International Conference Center including the new Maina Soko Military Hospital,” said Tadalisika.

Currently, she is the Clerk of Works at the construction site for the new China-Aided Zambia International Conference Center.

In the beginning, most of casual workers she supervised thought she was just a translator and not an engineer.

Her young age seems to have convinced these workers that Tadalisika is employed as an interpreter as she speaks fluent Chinese.

Being the only female engineer and the youngest on the team, Tadalisika says she usually kept a low profile when big delegations made site visits.

“I was lucky to become an InnovateHer mentee under When Females Lead and Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK). The program taught me to have more confidence in myself as an engineer. My mentor taught me that being a young black female engineer is a strength, not a disadvantage,” she revealed.

Tadalisika in a meeting with a visiting delegation

The experience gave her the confidence to lead a site tour when the Minister of Infrastructure Housing and Urban Development and other officials visited to see the progress of works.

Tadalisika plans to pursue a Masters in Sustainable Construction or Infrastructure because she wants to gain expertise in the green built environment to promote green, inclusive infrastructure in Africa.

She names her role models as Dr. Nike Folayan and Mopelola Olatunji who are accomplished British and British-Nigerian female engineers respectively.

Tadalisika is an avid reader and a tea and coffee addict whose passion is fighting climate change, and promoting gender equality and sustainable infrastructure.

Looking at the pace Tadalisika has risen, not even the sky is the limit for her.

She is likely to get to where she dreams to go and make it big in the engineering profession.

At 23, this young engineer has achieved what many youths at her age have not achieved.

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