By Santham Pillay – South Africa
When journalist Ramzy Baroud was 14 years old, he began his career by writing opinions on the walls of the Gaza Strip.
The award-winning journalist and author was in the country this week to launch his latest book, My Father was a Freedom Fighter.
The book chronicles the life of his father, Mohammed, who died at the age of 70 two years ago during a siege in the Gaza Strip.
"It is my father’s life as I saw it," said Baroud. "It is also a Palestinian narrative, and that narrative is very important."
The 37-year-old is a columnist for various newspapers and former producer on the Arabic news network Al Jazeera.
He created the Palestine Chronicle in 1999, a newsletter that is now a source of information within the country.
Baroud, who was born and raised in a refugee camp, this week addressed journalism students on the Durban University of Technology’s city campus on the importance of "telling the story of the ordinary people".
"The media depicts us (Palestinians) as the anti-heroes, but the real Palestine has so little to do with this and so much to do with the ordinary people."
His book was launched on Thursday night at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College.
He said he felt it was "essential to tell my father’s story".
"He was uprooted from his village, and he became a Palestine freedom fighter, fighting with the hope that he would one day go back, but he died in desolation in a refugee camp, without the right to medical facilities."
Baroud, a father of three, said everyone was imperfect and his father was no different. "He even became violent towards my mother at one stage."
The Brunei-based author said he purposely chose South Africa for the launch of his book.
"I did that as a statement that the age of the freedom fighter has not ended. And South Africa is one of the leaders in that area.
"They were not terrorists or militants, they were actual freedom fighters."
(The Sunday Times, South Africa)