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Lovely Mukupa Zambia’s first heavy duty truck driver

AFTER failing in her grade nine (9) examinations three times (3), Lovely Mukupa made up her mind to stop school and venture into something challenging and more adventurous. Ms. Mukupa is a heavy duty truck driver at AM Motors in South Africa – probably the only long distance female trucker in Zambia at the moment. At the time of this interview, she was in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on assignment and she was talked to via WhatsApp.

The Sun: Who is Lovely Mukupa?
Mukupa: Lovely Mukupa is a 42 year old mother of four (4). The only female tolling abnormal loads in Zambia. I live with my mother in Pemba district, in Southern Province.

The Sun: Are you married?
Mukupa: No. My husband and I divorced in 2011.

The Sun: How far have you gone in school?
Mukupa: I have only gone up to grade nine (9). It was not due to lack of sponsors but because I failed three (3) times and just decided to quit.

The Sun: Was it at that point you opted to venture into driving?
Mukupa: No. I started driving heavy trucks in 2012. I was taught by my husband before we divorced. I used to go on trips with him and decided to continue with it a year after we divorced. I have not attended any driving school but only upgraded my driver’s license because I had a lower class.

The Sun: Were your parents comfortable with you working as a truck driver?
Mukupa: Dad had accepted and allowed me but mum had a problem with it. She told me I was female and had to perform the duties of a mother at home and not being on the road all the time. She would tell me that driving trucks was a man’s job but we managed to convince her in the end and she agreed.

The Sun: What are some of the challenges you go through in your work?
Mukupa: I manage by the grace of God. I am not favoured as a woman at work. I am treated just the same way male drivers are treated. But money wise I am okay because the salary is fair.

The Sun: How have you been managing to take care of your children as a woman and as a long distance driver?
Mukupa: Not so good. I do not attend family meetings and funerals on time, and don’t see my family for a long time because I am on the road most times. I only spend time with my family here for less than a week and within the same week I have to divide time to beat the border waiting for clearance. It is not easy.

The Sun: What has been your most challenging moment since you started pulling heavy trucks?
Mukupa: The only challenging moment I had was when I was involved in a road traffic accident in Lusaka in 2013. It was bad and thought it was going to be the end of the road for me. I was worried about who would take care of my children if I died.

The Sun: What have been some of your achievements through this job?
Mukupa: I have recently built a very beautiful house in Pemba District and I am planning to build another one. I can also proudly say that I have managed to take my children to school. The first and second born completed their high school education while the third and fourth are still in school. One is in grade 9 and the other in grade 4.

The Sun: What advice can you give to your fellow women out there?
Mukupa: Women must believe in themselves and always remember that no job under the sun was meant for men only. It is a free world and anyone can do anything. I am proud of myself especially that I am currently the only Zambian female pulling abnormal loads.

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