Meeting Zubeida Jafffer, an iconic #GirlBoss

Something remarkable happened to me yesterday, something that sent me on my way with the feeling of a white cloud settling underneath the skin of my chest. When I crossed the road off of Rhodes University campus, Zubeida Jaffer recognised me, smiled at me and asked me how I was doing.

Ever since I read #GirlBoss, figuring out how to channel my inner #GirlBoss has seized my thoughts on a loop. I want nothing more. Zubeida Jaffer is the quintessence of a #GirlBoss – especially in the field I am pursuing.

Zubeida Jaffer is one of South Africa’s finest journalists and my Journalism class was awarded the opportunity to spend some time with her on Tuesday. Her resume is overwhelmingly impressive. Hearing about her life story and how she forged ahead, despite being classified as a coloured woman in the crippling era of Apartheid, forced me to realise it is time to step it right up.

Ms. Jaffer comes from Cape Town and started her first job at The Argus at just 22 years old. At that time, she thought she was studying to become a clinical psychologist. However, searching for a summer job to make money led her to a sector she would thrive in.  She regarded herself as “fortunate enough” to have been able to report the uprisings at happened during the ‘80’s. She saw horrific acts against humanity, and experienced things “you never get over”.

Despite all of this, she has a warmth about her. She did not talk in that humble-brag way. Truly, she comes across of one of the most genuinely kind people (and I am not just saying so because she happened to greet me in the middle of the road). There was not a trace of resentment or self-pity present throughout the time she spoke. She has been jailed and beaten for her contribution to her craft, and she used that at to fuel her strength. I admire that. She urged us “not to cry” in daunting situations.

She has so much faith in us, and that really touched me. She said that “every skill you have you can use”, urging us to come up with solutions to take this country to a better place  – even if that was just helping the journalism students a year below us.  Everything she said illustrated what a champion she is. One of my personal favourite quotes is, “I consider myself privileged because I could study and I have skills”. I think I forget that far too often; I forget that I have all the tools to become a #GirlBoss of my own.

Lastly, I was truly impressed by her statement, “I think I have done everything I wanted to do with my life. Everything else now is a bonus”. I don’t have to show you why she is such a #GirlBoss. She does that for herself.

[Header image credit: Books LIVE]


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