All who care about education, and indeed all educators, wherever in the world they may live, could usefully take out time to read Malala Yousafzai’s book, published in late 2013:
‘I AM MALALA: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban’ – Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2013
At the age of 16, Malala Yousafzai, born in the Swat Valley in Pakistan and now resident in Birmingham, England, has become a global icon for the right to education, and above all the right of women and girls to education. The fact that she is now a worldwide celebrity should deter no-one from reading her eloquent memoir, written with the editorial aid of journalist Christina Lamb but through which there shines throughout a clear and lucid authorial voice.
We learn how Malala’s father – a passionate believer in education for all and, like Malala herself, fluent in Pashto, Urdu and English – struggled to set up the school in Swat at which his daughter became a pupil; how the Pakistan Taliban became the de facto rulers of Swat and set up a nightmare regime under which girls were told they would go to heaven if they abandoned school, and 400 schools were destroyed; how Malala authored a blog in favour of education rights and became a target for the Taliban; how a Taliban gunman almost killed her, and how, hospitalised in England, she miraculously survived and went on to author this book and to campaign for girls’ education worldwide while simultaneously living the everyday life of a secondary school pupil in Birmingham.
‘How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?’, asks Malala on page 118. This book holds up the mirror to both Islamic fundamentalists and the cultural relativists who whitewash them in the West. It deserves to be required reading for anyone who believes in the right to education, and to those who doubt that right too. Despite the dark nature of the forces against which Malala and her father fight, it is also powerful reading, enjoyable and deeply moving by turns. I am sure I will be returning to this book on a later occasion, and meanwhile I strongly recommend all those who believe in a better future for the human race to read it.
NOTE 1): See also entry on this blog for 15 Jan 2014:
“MALALA IS NOT ALONE: THE TRAGIC SACRIFICE OF 15-YEAR-OLD AITZAZ HASAN IN PAKISTAN”
NOTE 2) Added 1 Feb 2014:
On 28 Jan 2014, The Guardian reported the following:
Jon Boone, ‘Malala Yousafzai memoir launch scrapped in Pakistan’:
‘An attempt to launch the memoir of the Pakistani schoolgirl who became a global icon after being shot in the head by the Taliban in her home province has been scuppered by opposition from local politicians.
Malala Yousafzai’s book was due to be launched at an event on Monday at Peshawar University but organisers were forced to scrap it after the intervention of two senior members of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (…)
The event that was to have been held at the university’s Central Asia Area Study Centre had been intended to raise awareness of a book which is not widely available in Pakistan.
Few booksellers dare stock it after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is particularly strong in KP, threatened to attack shops selling copies of I Am Malala.
Organisers said they came under enormous pressure to abandon the event, with ministers, the police and university officials all intervening (…)’