Book Review : I AM MALALA



Published By: Little, Brown and Company, UK

Author: Malala Yusufzai with Christina Lamb

About the Author:

Malala Yousafzai:

1.Born on 12 July 1997 is a Pakistani school pupil and education activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She is known for her activism for rights to education and for women, especially in the Swat Valley, where theTaliban had at times banned girls from attending school. In early 2009, at the age of 11–12, Yousafzai wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. The following summer, a New York Times documentary by journalist Adam B. Ellick was filmed about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region, culminating in the Second Battle of Swat. Yousafzai rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.

2. She has been nominated and have been awarded many prestigious world awards. Some notable awards are mentioned below:

  1. International Children’s Peace Prize nominee, 2011
  2. National Youth Peace Prize, 2011
  3. Sitara-e-Shujaat, Pakistan’s third-highest civilian bravery award, October 2012
  4. Foreign Policy magazine top 100 global thinker, November 2012
  5. Time magazine Person of the Year shortlist, December 2012
  6. Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice, November 2012
  7. Rome Prize for Peace and Humanitarian Action, December 2012
  8. Top Name of 2012 in Annual Survey of Global English, January 2013
  9. Simone de Beauvoir Prize, January 2013
  10. Memminger Freiheitspreis 1525, March 2013(conferred on 7 December 2013 in Oxford)
  11. Nobel Peace Prize nominee, March 2013

Christina Lamb:

  1. (born 15 May 1966) is a British journalist who is currently Foreign Correspondent for The Sunday Times. She was educated at University College, Oxford (BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

About the Book:

  1. I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

Body of the Book: Chapter wise brief description is explained below :

Chapter 1- July 12, 1997

Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan. Her parents are Thorpekai and Ziauddin Yousafzai.

Chapter 2
Malala discusses her father’s younger life as he grew up in Pakistan with a stutter. During his time growing up, Russia invades Afghanistan, but Ziauddin was too young to fight. Because of his upbringing, Ziauddin’s view on war and life enable him to conquer his stutter and become a well-rounded speaker, motivated to educate others.

Chapter 3 & 4
Malala learns to appreciate her freedom and upbringing at a young age when she visits her Grandpa in Barkana, Shangla. This village had harsh conditions and rules and Malala witnesses as women’s schools are burned down and women are beaten if not precisely follwing the rules of the Taliban.

Chapter 5 & 6
Because of her parents and her upbringing, Malala strives to help the poor in her community. She follows the example of her parents, who offer their home to the needy and give free tuition to children. In Malala’s country, the Pakistani government starts aiding the United States in the war against terror while assisting the Taliban.

Chapter 7
Local authorities try to put an end to Malala’s school because they believed women should be at home and not in the precense of men. The USA sends drones to destroy Al-Queda but many innocent people are killed and talk starts about how the deaths will be avenged.

Chapter 8- October 8, 2005
A large earthquake hits Malala’s hometown and surrounding areas causing immense damage. The government does little to help the people and take of introducing Islamic law begins.

Chapter 9
A Taliban leader named Fazlullah starts spreading Islamic law over the radio,and becomes very popular while sharing his beliefs. Malala speaks on the radio and becomes known as “Radio Malala”. Ziauddin works as an English teacher and begins to establish his own school with his college, Nameen. Malala is born and everything with the school turns out successful. Tradegy strikes in America when 9/11 occurs and the Yousafzais are yet to understand how this will impact their lives

Chapter 10
The Taliban gains many supporters including women who cannot go out in public anymore. They declare war on the Pakistani government and train female suicide bombers.

Chapter 11
The two schools surrounding Malala’s school are bombed, and Malala goes on a local news channel to do an interview about womens’ rights. Fazlullah’s deputy, Maulana Shah Dauran announced that all girls schools should close.

Chapter 12
Many dead bodies are dumped in the town square, located in the middle of town, making it known as the “bloody square’

Chapter 13
Malala keeps a blog/diary about how she lived on a day to day basis under the Taliban, which had issued her school to be closed on January 15.

Chapter 14
The Taliban and the provincial government create a peace treaty allowing girls under the age of ten go to school. Malala and her friends are eleven, but pretend to be ten to continue their schooling. Militant Sufi Muhammad gives the hope of stopping the Taliban, but no peace occurs.

Chapter 15
Malala and her family have to leave Swat Valley and she has to leave all of her books and possessions behind, not knowing when she will return. The entire family minus her father go to live in her uncle’s house where Malala goes to school with her cousin.

Chapter 16
Malala and her family return home to Swat Valley after three months as an IDP. The Prime Minister announced the Taliban had moved out, and Malala takes a trip to Islamabad with her school to learn about politics and give speeches. Malala turns thirteen in July, 2010.

Chapter 17
Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces. Malala recieves half a million rupees from winning awards given to her by the prime minister and other foreign ministers/ governments which she donates to charity.

Chapter 18
Malala and her father travel to Karachi to do more speeches and Malala starts to receive death threats.

Chapter 19- Summer, 2011
On July 12, Malala turns fourteen. Malala’s school is anonymously threatened and bad rumors are spread about the school and its teachings. On August 3rd, Malala’s father’s friend, Zahid Kahn is shot, and the family worries that Ziauddin is next, but he continues to speak about education, politics, and rights.

Chapter 20- October 9, 2012
Malala is riding home from school on her bus after taking exams when the bus is stopped by two young men who ask “Who is Malala”, and then shoot her. The first bullet goes through her eye socket and out her shoulder, while the other two bullets hit the ear and shoulder of the girls next to her.

Chapter 21
The doctors at the local hospital are sure the bullet didn’t cause Malala any brain damage, and the Taliban takes full responsibility for the shooting.

Chapter 22
Malala is moved to a superior intensive care unit because infections and other complications threaten her conditions.

Chapter 23
A week later, Malala becomes conscious. Her primary concerns become her family and how they will pay for her treatments. She is shocked by the love and support of the people from all over the world.

Chapter 24
The bullet damaged a nerve in Malala’s face, causing permanent damage to her smile. The government pays for all of Malala’s hospital bills and rents an apartment for the family. Malala is thankful to to have survived and will go on to continue doing great things.

Comments/ Analysis of the Book

An unbiased conclusion would entail and suggest that the book was written with clear intention to inform and guide the public living in the west about the kind of lifestyle a common family in South Asian rural community will lead and the hardships they go through in day to day life. What occurs to be the most simplest of the tasks in the western world would be a tiresome journey for a girl in a small town like Swat. However, we must acknowledge that Christina Lamb is a journalist of high repute and have been awarded numerous awards covering war torn areas in the middle east and South Asia and has won many accolades. Yet, we must not forget the fact that it will always be more convenient for the west to paint itself as more righteous, more civilised, than the people they occupy and kill. But now, Malala’s fight should be ours too – more inclusion of women, remembrance of the many voiceless and unsung Malalas, and education for all. This book may be read for knowledge sake but it is no content account of a life of common man in Pakistan. All the hardships borne by Malala are not faced by a common girl living in Pakistan. It was her hard luck to be born at a wrong time in a wrong place.

Trail 3, Margala Hills

The Great Summer Escapade, April 2011

"Faisal Mosque" in the background

Residents of the Islamabad chase away to Damn-e-Koh or Pir Sohawa to take a respite from hot burning sun of summers and chill out with their families at a famous restaurant ‘The Monal’ developed by CDA (Capital Development Authority) that offers exquisite cuisine amongst the scenic and beautiful landscape view of the twin cities abutting the “Rawal Lake”.  People who love the continental food reserve a table at “The Treehouse” while other’s desi olfaction doesn’t allow them to go any place other than “Monal”.

However, the serious trekkers and the health conscious adventure enthusiasts prefer other entertainment and joy over eating out during weekends. They prefer to train themselves and explore their abilities and skills amidst nature’s beauty. I am glad I come from a family where every one has encouraged me to pursue such healthy activities.

The credit goes to my cousin who initiated a plan to visit Concordia, A confluence of the Baltoro Glacier and the Godwin-Austen Glacier during summer of 2012. We devised a plan to train us both starting off from the trails of Margalla Hills over these summers to get acquainted with our physical limitations before we set on for Concordia that offers enormous challenges. He (my cousin) has just returned from completing his MSc from UIUC, USA. He is as enthusiastic and excited about pulling up some muscles and physical stamina for harsh environmental conditions in extreme weather.

Trail 3, Margala Hills, Islamabad

Trail 3

So 23rd April, 2011 was the day we had a plan in mind that needed execution. The earlier night we went through blogs and kept googling on for some advice about the best trail to start off training. However we came to the conclusion that we would stick with trail 3 after reading about it on “wikitravel”. The day opened up by following an “early to bed, early to rise” scheme we followed in our school days. We slept the earlier night around 22:30 and woke up around 6:00 in the morning. With some muscles still cracking up in our body but our anxiety to meet the challenge we mustered up courage to get out of the beds and break the weekend routine. My Baba (“my dad”) still was asleep when came down the stairs to leave for the ultimate adventure we had been longing for. Actually he (Baba) had told me that he would drop us off to the starting point of the trail and would bring the car home as it wasn’t safe to leave the car parked there for long at the parking lot. However we reached the starting point at 7:55 and noted our time to start the trek at 8:00. I had a bag weighing around 2 KG hanging on my back, a trekking pole (the one I bought from Satara Market, Peshawar), and a OKLEY glasses that I wore with style to make a fashion statement. Here are some stats about the trail:-

Total Length: (start to the end point) 6 KM

Total Duration: It took us 2 Hrs and 12 Min to reach the top (with considerable amount of water breaks and at slow pace of walk)

Environment: Green, Clean and fresh air with birds chirping around

Wildlife: You may encounter some monkeys but feeding them is strictly prohibited or they won’t allow you to proceed further (However, monkeys didn’t come close to us)

Deep hidrosis half way up (about 40 minutes) the trail I was welcomed by the branding son kissing my neck fearing the severe skin burn for the first summer escapade .I did regret not to have applied my “sun block” cream. By this time I had no option left to turn back and was doomed to reach the top (the entrance of Lakhsmi Chowk restaurant) and the famous Monal Restaurant. Ten minutes afterwards was indeed a blessing in disguise under the shades of pine trees where I could munch up some energy bar and savor a sweet drink besides a prayer area (6×4 feet) made up of marble slabs. We had a five minutes rest and then we started with small steps and courage to ascend farther. This time we also noticed the alternate “Fire escape paths” in case of wild-fire in the forest. When the Malaysians (assumption) passed-by, Asfand (my cousin) put up an idea to pick this “Fire path” (assumed shortcut) further ahead to reach earlier than studied time, I affirmed. We witnessed some mineral rocks along the path but the elevation was tough and a bit steeper. However when we reached the top where this path met the trail 3 again, the Malaysian had already reached there without following the steeper path that Asfand and I followed. By this time we had no energies left, dreaded going further and were cursing each other for taking the decision. Later on we realized that this is the part of adventure and there are greater challenges in tougher terrains of Concordia for what we are training for. Then we proceeded further with only one mission to reach the top as soon as possible. It wasn’t too late when we again steered away on the right towards the wrong trail 5 which lead us to 200 m further below. But soon we realized that we were going the wrong way and started heading backwards towards the junction from where we took the wrong turn. We reached there and asked an old local man about the right path and he guided us towards the direction that would lead us to “Monal”. Eventually we reached there with all our clothes under deep sweat because of great physical exertion and sunburn after a long time.

Trail 3, Margala Hills

"The Monal" and "The TreeHouse"

We had a drink or two at the “Lakhmi Chowk”, washed our faces with cold running water and were so much perked up afterwards that we decided to descend down on foot till the starting point of the trail (6 KM). We completed this task more handsomely in an hour or less. Had some biscuits and a few sips of a reward drink (Rooh Afza) at the base and headed back on foot to our residential complex, 7.6 KMs away. We were all steamed up and our legs were charged up to go further. We reach home around 13:30 and we were starving, asking for rest and a shower. We allowed our sweat to evaporate, and then went in to our bathrooms for a shower. We had an amazing ‘Chicken Karahi’, specially cooked by mama (my mother).  Later we realized that we had trotted 6+6+7.6=19.6 KM in total which is quite an achievement for new starters.

All in All, it was an adventurous, exhilarating, elating and rewarding trip. It was worth the effort and we’ll continue to train ourselves even hard the next time we set on for a joyous exercise. After all we have “Concordia” in our mind to testify our physical extremities.

Here are some snaps from various view points:-

Judges Enclave

Escape Fire Route, My cousin Asfand

Faisal Mosque from above

I’ll be back soon!