Last night SACRED ( South African Center for Religious Equality and Diversity) was privileged to host a talk by Mrs Najma Khota. A broadcast journalist, radio and TV presenter,a counselling therapist and a trauma counsellor. This evening gave us a valuable insight into Najma’s fascinating life as an activist and journalist. She motivated all in attendance by her experiences, fascinating stories and charm.
In contemporary South Africa the promotion of equal rights for women, has created conflicts with those who argue that such rights violate religious beliefs and cultural traditions. Potential tensions between religion and culture, present multiple daily dilemmas for women. Mrs. Khota discussed questions such as; Is it possible for women to hold together their identities in a liberating way? Can women be true to their ethnic racial identity, or faith and tradition without confusion?”
Najma started her journey 20 years ago as a radio presenter, which was her childhood dream. Against the odds Najma founded a community radio station and later co-founded two others. All were unique to the country at the time. Najma was faced with a new challenge when she was told that according to Islamic teachings; women were not allowed to be heard “on air”. She did her own research into this “male-dominated assumption,” and gained support from the community – proving that there was no basis for what some claimed as an Islamic rule.
Najma became a voice for women through her platform on radio and television, a household name locally, and a ‘go-to person’ in her community for many women seeking advice on all fronts. Najma pursued her career as a counselling therapist concurrently with being a radio talk show host and television presenter. As a counselling therapist and a trauma counsellor, Najma is also the director of “Forever Blooming,” an organisation she founded in 2005. This stress and trauma centre offers counselling services to individuals coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. She lives by the adage: What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us (R.W. Emerson). Najma is married with three children. Thank you to Bet David for hosting this event in the Rondavel and to the Kehillah for the delicious supper. It was an evening that will stay in our memory for a very long time.
Wishing you a lovely weekend.
Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Julia Margolis.