When I heard that I had been selected as one of the Mail & Guardian’s “200 Young South Africans” this year I laughed in comic disbelief. Minutes later I was crying, overwhelmed with gratitude. Like Isaac Newton, I have only made it so far by my perch on the shoulders of giants. As much as it has been an honour and a privilege it has also been a profoundly humbling experience.
How do you distinguish yourself in a noisy media landscape of wannabe writers? Invent your own platform if you can’t get anyone to publish you and keep writing.
That’s what worked for Khadija Patel, blogger, Muslim community magazine editor and tweeter of note.
The 27-year-old has made a name for herself as the go-to girl for the latest news on the Arab uprisings, using social-media tools. Not a journalist by training, Patel majored in English and Arabic. It was a significant choice: her ability to translate the Arab world – in more ways than one – would create a niche for her as a young writer years later.
Now she is quoted by the likes of big-business honcho Bobby Godsell, receives invitations to talk about the Arab Spring at conferences and on radio and has her own column on the Daily Maverick.
“I want to continue working hard, staying honest and pushing the boundaries. I really just want to write.” – Verashni PillayTo read more profiles from the 2011 200 Young South Africans supplement online, click here.