Shamsaan Ambassador, Janna Jihad (Janna Tamimi) from the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied Palestinian territories visited St James on Venice in Morningside to share an update about life in Palestine with a South African audience on Monday, 2 July at 11am.

Shamsaan (meaning ‘two suns’ in Arabic) is a collaborative South African initiative with Palestine that is focused on global human rights issues; supporting social activism through the arts and creates platforms for dialogue and positive social change. Speaking to The Weekly Gazette, Janna said that she wanted to share her voice through journalism. “When I was seven-years old, I saw that there were not enough journalists to cover the things that happened. A lot of things happened and the world didn’t know about our feelings as children living in the occupation,” she explained.

In attendance was eThekwini Deputy Mayor, Fawzia Peer who commended Janna.

“At 12-years old, she is the youngest official press card carrying journalist in the world and for that I think we need to give her a round of applause” said Peer. Speaking about her cousin, Ahed Tamimi (17) who has been in prison since December last year after slapping a solider who was allegedly trying to enter her house, Janna said it was a difficult time.” Of course its very hard for us, because whenever I want to go to her house, I remember that she is in jail. I feel that part of my soul is missing,” said Janna. “They wanted to go into her house, she didn’t let them and she slapped them,” added Janna. For Janna, it is instances such as her cousin’s arrest that inspire her to continue reporting, and she said she enjoys covering issues. “It’s really good. Whenever I cover something, I learn more about the issue,” she said.

“I’m gonna be five things (when I grow up). I’m going to study political science to learn more about the governments around the world, I’m going to be a journalist and cover things I haven’t yet, third thing, I’m going to be an artist to send my message in a better way for the children, fourth thing, I’m going to be a fashion designer to design traditional Palestinian dresses and make it a fashion statement and fifth thing, i’m going to be a football player,” added Janna. Showing his support at the event was Logie Naidoo. “We have always supported the Palestinian cause, we think it’s a human rights issue. the fact that today we have child prisoners is really an absolute tragedy and that the world tolerates such actions. Janna represents that generation of young minds that are prepared to stand up to say, ‘We want freedom, we want democracy, we want to live in peace and harmony,’ We are here to support this young lady,” said Naidoo.

Janna will participate in the upcoming Mandela centenary events; engage with South African social justice and human rights organisations and on youth platforms. In addition, Janna will attend training workshops and will be meeting with media persons that have generously offered to provided mentorship and support. She is available for interaction in KZN from 1 to 8 July and in Gauteng from 11 to 17 July.