Tribute in courage of a quintessential pilot: Adzuayi ‘ZaZa’ Simi-Yel Ewuga

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By Fatai Ibrahim

When beggars die, there are no comet seen but heaven themselves blaze-forth the death of Princess” – Julius Caesar

Senior First Officer, Adzuayi ‘ZaZa’ Simi-Yel Ewuga (4 December 1988 – 11 May 2022), lived a life of legacy, boldness, resilience, courage and love. Simi-Yel Ewuga died in a plane crash in Central Cameroon. The aircraft, with 11 passengers on board, was flying from Yaounde Nsimalen Airport to Belabo, in the east of the country when air traffic services lost radio contact.

Since her demise which has left a big hole in the heart, a lot have been said about this effervescent young lady for leaving her imprint on the sands of time in her short but eventful life span. 

Simi-Yei Ewuga was born on 4th December, 1988 and was the younger of the two daughters of Senator Solomon Ewuga and Mrs Josephine Ewuga. She was from Nasarawa state and grew up in Plateau state. She started her kindergarten education at the Beehive School in Jos, Plateau state, attended various primary schools and then went to Olashore International School, Osun State where she completed her secondary school education. 

Fondly known as Zaza by her beloved family members and numerous friends around the world, ‘Zaza’ was loved and cherished by many. She was an energetic, brilliant, personable and charismatic young woman who lived a balanced life. She was very down to earth, quick to lend a helping hand, generous and dedicated to all she put her mind to. She made friends everywhere she went and her family have received condolences from across the world, England, Sweden, Italy, Cameroon, Nigeria, USA, Germany, France, Canada and more. This is because Zaza was relatable, humble and loving and always making connections and taking the time to care for others. 

Her aviation journey began in 2016 after she obtained her Commercial Pilot License from Phoenix East Aviation, Daytona Beach Florida, USA. Shortly after graduation she began her career with Caverton Helicopters the same year and was hired as a Second Officer and flew the Twin Otter DHC-6 400. She was later promoted to First Officer and continued to fly the same aircraft. 

She died in active service working for Caverton Helicopters. In September 2022, four months after her death, she was posthumously recognized as a *Senior First Officer* “in recognition of her hard work, dedication and unparalled service to duty.”

Ms Ewuga earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Cleveland State University, USA in 2011. During her time at the University, in addition to her academic pursuits she was actively involved in student government and served as Treasurer (2009–2010) and then President (2010–2011) of Cleveland State University African Students Association. 

Before commencing her career in aviation, Adzuayi held roles across the solid minerals, oil and gas, finance and technology sectors. In 2012, she worked as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of Eta-Zuma Group Limited; a Nigerian mining company and indigenous conglomerate involved in exploration and mining of solid minerals, power generation and steel production. 

During her National Youth Service year, she served at the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute, a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, where she worked as a marketing representative. Subsequently, she worked in the oil and gas industry as a Business Development Officer at DuPort Marine from 2013 till 2014. Her contributions to the company led to the acquisition of mining licenses, as well as developing a sound rapport with the mining communities. 

As a consummate professional who sought knowledge and experience across various fields, during summer breaks from university, Miss Ewuga completed internships at various Nigeria-based companies. Two of these included working at one of the foremost investment banking companies in Africa BGL (2011) and working at the renowned Huawei Technologies (2009).

Ms Ewuga had a Safety Management Systems (SMS) certification from Embry Riddle University and was in the process of securing a Professional Certificate in Aviation Risk Management. She also had a CAA DHC-300/400 Type Rating and an NCAA DHC-6 300/400 Type Rating. She had additional certifications in Fire and First Aid, Dangerous Goods, HUET, Aviation Security, Crew Resource Management and Aviation Risk Management. 

In addition to her aviation pursuits, she was also learning French, setting up an animal farm with her aunty and had numerous financial commitments where she supported the less-privileged. She was disciplined, hardworking and humble and always channelled her diverse experiences across different sectors into various business ideas and investments. 

She is survived by her older sister, Mrs Akayi Yei-Dei Luraghi (nee Ewuga), her parents Senator Solomon Ewuga and Mrs Josephine Ewuga, her brother-in-law Osvaldo Alejandro Luraghi, her nephew Caleb Daniel Gab-Dagwei Ayimo Luraghi, her extended family and her countless friends worldwide. 

We salute the gallant wings of *Senior First Officer* Adzuayi Ewuga 

and pray for her eternal rest. She is greatly missed and her absence is deeply felt worldwide.

But we take solace in the words of Thomas Jefferson who said “I enjoy good heath, I am happy in what is around me, yet I assure you all, I am ripe of leaving  this year, this day, this hour” and a Chinese adage which says “To die and remain in the hearts of those left behind is not to die”, and pray that our dear princess rest in perfect peace. 

We pray the good Lord will comfort her family and dear ones.

Adieu.

Ibrahim writes from Abuja