“I love my God. I thank my Allah. I talk to him all day. He is the greatest. By giving me this height to reach people, he has also given me great responsibilities. Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish.
I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.”
These words, like the child that utters them, are pristine and yet so powerful. Surely it echoes the thoughts and dreams of every decent citizen who has similar dreams and cherishes like-minded values. It encapsulates everything that Malala Yousafzai holds close to her heart and everything she believes in.
Reading through the final pages of I Am Malala, it reminded me of some earlier thoughts I held about this remarkable young woman. My thoughts have not changed. .
This thoughtful, caring and well-educated young lady from Swat, Pakistan is also very brave and closely attuned to her culture and religion. For speaking out, the Taliban attempted to kill her. To add insult to the Talban’s own deformities, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner also knows her Q-ran better than most young men (me included) who visit the Mosque every Friday. She is able to use her wisdom to counter claims of national domination and religious intolerance made by these close-minded men. That they failed to murder Malala is nothing short of divine intervention by Allah himself.
This is living proof that the legacy of Mohandas K Gandhi remains secure. She follows in the footsteps of peace makers such as South Africa’s Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela, Poland’s Lech Walesa, Burma’s Aung Saan Suu Kyi and the USA’s Doctor Martin Luther King, Jnr. She shared last year’s Nobel Peace Prize with the Indian activist, Kailiash Satvarthi. Indeed, the Nobel committee remarked that it was important that a Hindu and Muslim and Indian and Pakistani be recognised for their common struggle for education and actions against extremism.
Malala’s co-writer is justifiably proud to be associated with this remarkable young woman. Christina Lamb remarked that the Peace Prize could not have gone to anyone better.
Malala Yousafzai’s biography starts dramatically on Weidenfeld and Nicolson’s book jacket;
“I AM MALALA
The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban.”
Malala Yousafzai is not a first language English speaker. But as a powerful orator for equal rights and equal education for all, her words are precise. Thanks to Christina Lamb’s polishing, Malala’s short story is hugely beneficial to the first time reader, revealing intimate thoughts on Pakistani culture, religion and politics. It also lays bare the evil of the Taliban who, much like far right-wing fundamentalist “Christians” from the West, selectively appropriate portions of the Q-Ran to suit their own deranged purposes.
It was refreshing to read that previously held beliefs on the context of the Holy Q-Ran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were not based on ignorance or even bias. Fortunately, this reader had already been Blessed with a bit of diversity in his own life and being exposed to Cape Malay culture which has similarly sexist flaws to his own inherited religion.
Another belief is also confirmed throughout I Am Malala. The inherent benefits of a formal education. Forget for a moment that you may not have the material benefits that most of your peers take for granted. You see the world through a different set of eyes, but more importantly with a sense of tolerance and even patience no matter how difficult it is to master. But young Malala has had these qualities throughout her short life, and it shows in her book. I particularly enjoyed the way her young voice flits through the pages giving me a rudimentary, but useful guide to Pakistani history since before its colonial association with India, through the rise of the Taliban and ultimately the realisation of slow progress, but progress nevertheless, towards emancipatory reforms for Muslim and Hindu women and children throughout this sub-continent.
Malala Yousafzai always emphasises the importance of education, whether to excel as a student, or achieve equality for her peers. It is not everyday that one can feel privileged to receive thoughts, beliefs and views of our multicultural universe, say what you may, through the prism of a child. Yet it is a story told by a woman much older than the sum of her few years.
If, twenty years from now, perhaps sooner, Malala Yousafzai has realized her ambition of becoming Pakistan’s Prime Minister, then the world has taken a turn for the better.