Palestine’s Janna Jihad, 12

DURBAN - INSPIRED by Nelson Mandela’s support for Palestine, one of the world’s youngest registered journalists, arrived in South Africa on Friday to tell locals about her life under military occupation.

Palestine’s Janna Jihad, 12, will speak at a closed event in Durban tomorrow, organised by 2 Suns Shamsaan, which supports social activism through arts and culture. Jihad will spend the rest of her time in the country participating in Mandela centenary events. She will engage human rights organisations and youth platforms, in the company of her activist mother, Nawal Tamimi.

Jihad began reporting at the age of 7 after two of her relatives were killed. She uses her mother’s iPhone to capture videos of protests near her home and upload them on to social media to spread awareness of issues she is confronted with daily.

“My camera is my gun, but the camera is stronger than the gun. I can send my message to people, and they can send it to others so that the whole world can learn the truth about Palestine,” Jihad said.

Earlier this year, she was officially registered as the youngest press card-carrying member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. Last year, she was awarded an International Benevolence Award for citizen journalism in Turkey.

Jihad said her dream for the people of Palestine was for them to live in peace and freedom and to have equality. “We want our rights like everybody else. I want children to live their childhood to the full. We love to visit the sea, which is about 30km from my home, but we cannot, because of life under military occupation.

“We want to live just like other people around the world, without daily suffering,” said Jihad.

She has grown accustomed to waking to the sound of gas cannisters being set off and soldiers raiding her village.

Local activist Nadia Meer, who is hosting Jihad, has had a long-standing relationship with the people of Palestine. Meer said it was important for the public to know and understand the levels of violence Palestinian children were subjected to.

“All the kids really want is to live a normal life - and 2 Suns Shamsaan aims to create platforms for kids to speak their minds. Janna is one of the special cases where her voice is being heard and we need this to be amplified,” said Meer.

Jihad thanked the people of South Africa for being “one of Palestine’s biggest voices”. “I want South Africans to continue raising awareness of children who suffer, get killed or arrested for no reason,” said Jihad.

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SUNDAY TRIBUNE