Shubnum Khan

Shubnum Khan is not the sum of her achievements, even if they are impressive for a 26-year-old. She’s a full-time lecturer in media studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a master’s in English. Her debut novel, Onion Tears, was shortlisted for the 2009 Citizen Book Prize and the Penguin Prize for African Writing and has been translated into Italian.

You don’t have to read her tweets to know that Khan is a woman of her times. Feeling a deep responsibility to “use her voice so that others can be heard”, Khan writes for various women’s publications and the Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader while working on her second novel and compiling her first book of poetry. And then there’s the political cartoons she pens for Al Qalam. For her, the message dictates the medium and allows her the freedom to explore different expressions and reach new audiences. Educator, author, poet, political satirist-in-the-making — Khan is using society’s platforms to her full potential.

— Cat Pritchard