By Sumaya Seedat
When meeting Qaanitah Hunter for the first time, I was impressed. Dressed simply and elegantly in an abaya, I was reminded that this young lady is an avid blogger and a political journalist. Blogging seems to be the latest craze and with so many different ones out there, one in particular seems to stand out for me, and that is Diary of a Guji Girl, authored by Qaanitah, I took this opportunity to get to know her on a more personal level and to understand the dynamic individual behind the daily story lines.
Q: Qaanitah, please tell our readers more about yourself?
I am a twenty year old girl originally from Durban, now living in Jo’burg.I first studied to become an Aalimah before going on to pursue a degree in politics and communication.
I am a nerd, but the type of nerd that enjoys adventure.
Q: You have mentioned on occasion that Diary Of A Guji Girl began as more of a hobby, a form of relaxation and a “time-out”. Not long after, however, the possibility of it becoming a novel was suggested. Please explain how your blog evolved into an idea of a book?
To be honest, I have no idea. I just kept writing and people enjoyed what I wrote. It is all really exciting, and rather unbelievable.
Q. You have achieved a lot at your young age; You are a successful blogger, an Aalimah and a journalist who rubs shoulders with politicians. How do you remain humble with all of this success?
My sisters. They bring me down to earth. Sometimes when I say “I” too much I get the raised eyebrow. That immediately deflates my ego.
Q. What attitude do you need to succeed in the career paths that you have chosen to pursue?
First, you need to be goal-oriented. And by that I mean, you have to give your all to achieve your objectives. It’s either that or being okay with mediocrity. You also need to have a strong sense of identity. We all fault on this from time to time, but it is really important.
Then a thick skin is something else that is important to have. Some people may like what you write, but many hate it too.
I have politicians who insult my work at huge press conferences, but I’ve learnt not to take it personally. As long as you are sure that you have given the story your best, smile ad continue with your life.
Q. How has the transformation from Islamic radio to politics been?
It has been very interesting. I really miss Islamic radio- that is where my heart is. Things are a lot more calmer and meaningful. But being a political print journalist has its perks too.
Initially adjusting to the work load was a nightmare, but I am okay now.
Q. What are your aspirations after political journalism, or are you content with this form of reporting?
Maybe I will write sport. Okay, bad joke. I don’t know anything about sport. I always loved politics and I am content where I am now, although I would like to focus more on international relations.
Q. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There have been some really awesome moments. I can’t really isolate one. Perhaps covering former president Nelson Mandela’s death was a big highlight in my career.
Q. How long have you been working as a journalist?
Q. Narrate the events of the morning that you had to cover the death of Nelson Mandela
One word: hectic!
I was at home, dosing off when I got hundreds of frantic calls that Mandela has died. So I got dressed and drove to his house where a group of peoplegathered. We worked through the night, into the next day. It was a long ten days, but it was fascinating to meet several heads of state and important people. I came out of the coverage really, really tired. But it was worth it, I guess.
Q. What are the pros and cons of not only being a journalist, but a Muslim female journalist?
One of the main pros is that you can squash existing stereotypes about Muslims.
You can write about oppression and try to make a difference.
The cons are the strain it has on your personal life. It is long hours and hard days.
As a journalist she has been rather informative with her live tweets and up-to- date information. Qaanitah has proved that a hijabi need not stand back and watch the world go by, she can take the ‘bull by the horns’ and lead the pack.