An inspiration: Nokukhanya Zama.
The taxi industry is predominantly run by men. You rarely see women take up the reigns of ownership or behind the wheel of a taxi.
But slowly there is change being made to this male-dominated industry and behind this is Nokukhanya Zama. A tragedy in her life pushed her to become an owner as well as a taxi driver. This is her story.
The dynamic woman was born and raised in the renowned South-West township known as Soweto. Yearning for growth and being a lover of change, Nzama challenged herself to moving to Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal, for her schooling career.
Forcing herself out of her comfort zone, Zama adapted and acclimatized well to a province and language that was not familiar her own. It was only at the end of her schooling career that she met her life partner, James Zama in Empangeni.
In January 1995, Nokukhanya and James tied the knot. The couple was later blessed with three beautiful daughters.
“That was such a happy time in our lives. I got to marry my best friend. I still remember the day we became one as vividly as possible,” Zama said.
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Zama’s time with her loving husband was short lived after her life partner passed away.
“It was such a difficult time in the memory of our lives. The person I had been in partnership with was no more. My husband of many years, who had always supported had left me with the responsibility of so many things in our household, everything was now upon me. I could not let him down,” she said.
Being the woman of character that she is, Zama did not give in to life’s the trials and tribulations. Zama decided to take over her husband’s taxi business to make ends meet for her and her three daughters.
“I first hired drivers to drive for me and bring me my profit at the end of the day. After bringing in less profit and their countless excuses, I decided to drive my own taxis,” Zama revealed.
Being a driver at the Durban Harbour, Zama sold all her taxis and resigned at work. The Inanda resident bought her first Toyota Quantum.
With a clear plan in mind, Zama took to the streets of Inanda and Phoenix, safely picking up and dropping off passengers at their destinations.
“Many of the taxi drivers in the area I drive in used to try intimidate me by stopping right in front of me or even threatening me. I did not care, everything that they were doing to try scare me off did not work. I had children to feed and take to school and nothing would stop me from providing for my children,” Zama said.
“Many of them that started off as enemies and are now my closest acquaintances,” she said.The long hours of traffic, tears and sacrifice paid off as Zama managed to put her children in some of the best schools.
“My oldest daughter is a qualified nurse, the second is currently studying IT and the last one just completed matric,” a proud Zama said.
Opening up about her future plans, she revealed that she plans to venture into a different type of business. “I do not plan on being a driver for the rest of my life. I plan on exploring other business ventures,” Zama said.
Encouraging other women who aspire to be like her, Zama said that when you know your destiny no one can ever dethrone or scare you from it. “Never let the opinion of others scare you from being who you are or living your truth,” Zama said.