WOMAN OF THE MOMENT: ZURAIDA JARDINE

Well known to radio and TV fans, Zuraida Jardine was recently awarded a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The inspirational media icon talks family, learning and living her best life.


Zuraida is best known to TV viewers for hosting the second season of Big Brother Mzansi and as the winner of the first season of Strictly Come Dancing, but there are many more notches to this talented woman’s belt.

When we meet she is sitting at the pool at Fairlawns boutique spa in Sandton on a nippy Johannesburg morning, dressed in a comfy tracksuit. Despite a late night, the mother of two arrived early for the shoot, a clear sign of her strong work ethic and professionalism.

Hailing from the North West farming town of Brits, the journalist, actress and presenter was the first female to host a daytime radio show on the hugely popular 5FM, in 2002. ‘When I was a child I was fascinated by radio,’ she says. ‘It was always on at home and I was captivated by the stories I heard – it’s theatre of the mind. I grew up appreciating radio for that reason.’

EARLY ENTREPRENEURSHIP 

‘I started earning a salary from the age of 13,’ she says. She worked in a local shop, waitressed and worked as a sales consultant at Edgars, among other stores. ‘In matric, I was already paying my school fees and buying my uniforms.’ After completing matric she was accepted into a broadcasting journalism course at the University of Santa Rosa in San Francisco, USA, but two weeks before she was due to leave, her visa was refused as the US embassy said her family ties to South Africa weren’t strong enough.

‘I was so excited about going that I refused to unpack my bags,’ she says. ‘But I believe my life would not be the way it is now if it was not for things going the way they did.’

As it turned out, instead of going to study in the US, she began her radio career at the Cape Town-based Good Hope FM in 1997. She trained there and was eventually granted her big break by then-station manager Randall Abrahams of SA Idols fame when he made her an on-air DJ. She left Good Hope FM in 2002, to join 5FM.

WRITTEN IN THE STARS 

In 2001, on the set of Big Brother Mzansi 2, Zuraida met Josh Lindberg. She was the presenter and he was the content director. That was 17 years ago, and the two have been together ever since, and have two beautiful children, Zaria (9) and Shia (7). Today Josh is a television and theatre director and writer. Zuraida still blushes when she speaks about him. ‘He is amazing!’, she smiles. ‘I am grateful to be part of his family. He comes from a diverse and beautiful family (his parents are the legendary Des and Dawn Lindberg) that was instrumental in the development of South African theatre.’

EXPLORING THE WORLD 
In 2006, after she had spent years hosting radio and presenting TV shows, and following her win on Strictly Come Dancing, Zuraida and Josh decided to take a sabbatical in the US. ‘I realised I was exhausted,’ she says. ‘I had been working since my teens.’

For the next five years, the couple divided their time between Los Angeles in the US and South Africa. Then, when they were expecting their first child, Zuraida’s mother suffered a stroke and passed on.

‘I came back from the US a changed person,’ she says. ‘I became fiercely determined to live my life my way. Living in LA really changed me as a person. It freed me. I felt more myself than ever.’ She says being surrounded by people from all walks of life, who were all constantly learning and pursuing their dreams, was a liberating experience.

ONGOING EDUCATION 

Ironically – or perhaps just proof that merit is rewarded – Zuraida has now, at 43, been awarded her bachelors degree in psychology. ‘I decided that I wanted more out of life,’ she says. ‘I applied to Wits University to study psychology and was accepted. I have always been interested in human behaviour. I enjoy observing it. People tend to tell me their intimate stories. I see it as a gift, and sometimes we need to be proud of these gifts.’

LEADING BY EXAMPLE 

The saying ‘no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,’ encapsulates her ideals and motives for pursuing a career in psychology. She says her motto in life has always been ‘be a kind human being’.

This concept is central to the way she and Josh raise their children. ‘It is the advice I give to my children daily,’ she says. ‘It is nobler than being beautiful and receiving high marks.’ When asked what other vital life lessons she passes on to her children, Zuraida says simply that she cannot teach them anything – she can just lead by example.

‘It boils down to the fundamental things that we do,’ she says. ‘I do it and hope they witness it. I am all about being an example. It makes you more conscious and mindful.’ She adds that, ‘We don’t speak gender, sexuality, religion or race in our home. We are all human.’

BALANCING ACT
With Zuraida and Josh both leading busy professional lives, how do they spend quality time together as a family? ‘Sundays are our day,’ says Zuraida. ‘We practise yoga as a family, and we try to go out of Joburg once a month. Our quality time also involves a meal together without cellphones.’ 

Zuraida admits that studying means added responsibility. ‘Balance is elusive, but we as humans are by nature a mess,’ she laughs. However, she keeps herself centred and in control by meditating and exercising regularly.

She also has unreserved praise for her husband and his support. ‘I am blessed to have a hands-on partner,’ she smiles. ‘Alone time at a coffee shop is a favourite pastime. After this, I’m going for coffee for about an hour, then I’ll regroup!’

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION

When asked who inspires Zuraida, names like Thuli Madonsela, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama come up – all of them are forces to be reckoned with. Her domestic worker, Lihle, is also a source of inspiration. Her message to everyone is to never be defined by limitations. ‘Go for it!,’ she says. ‘You have nothing to lose. Just start – stand up and be a doer.’ 

A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS

  • I love vegetarian curries. 
  • I believe if God were to live on earth, He would pick the Maldives. 
  • The Power of Now is my favourite book. 
  • I love the movie Life is Beautiful
  • Strong social structures are essential. I enjoy time with my girlfriends. 
KEEP UP WITH ZURAIDA ON SOCIAL MEDIA 
Instagram: @zuraidajardine
Twitter: @ZuraidaJardine




Text Koketso Mashika
WOMAN OF THE MOMENT: ZURAIDA JARDINE WOMAN OF THE MOMENT: ZURAIDA JARDINE Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on August 01, 2018 Rating: 5

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