During my reading of “The Clever Class”, in Malala Yousafzai’s biography, I Am Malala, I noticed the good-natured competitiveness between Malala and her female class mates, always vying for top honours in their class. Invariably, during oral and written tests and exams, Malala would finish first, but the girls would always remain close friends, sharing their childlike love for Bollywood and Justin Bieber.
Not wanting to isolate themselves from the rest of the world and confine themselves to the rabid bias of the Taliban radio network, Malala and her father would scramble news from the BBC and Voice from America. Through knowledge and persistent studies in spite of the persecution, Malala formed a finite awareness of history from areas outside the Swat Valley. While she remains inherently proud of her Pakistani and Islamic roots, she is aware of Gandhi’s warnings against the partitioning of greater India.
She makes a note of her father’s hatred of what we could term sitting on our hands and on the fence while the rest of the world crumbles around us. She is aware of the Holocaust and shares Martin Niemoller’s poem with us;
“First the came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then the came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
This is what a young girl tells us when we do nothing.