Malala Yousufzai... heroine or pawn in the war of ideas?

2013-07-14 08:10

" Let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. " (Malala Yousufzai)

The above quote is but a few words from a speech delivered by Malala Yousufzai, on her sixteenth birthday, when she was invited to speak to a special sitting of the UN on Friday 12 July 2013.

For those coming cold into this, Malala Yousufzai, is described as an "activist" and has been likened to a "suffragette" for her public advocacy for the right of girls and females to an education all over the world, but starting in her own country Pakistan. For her outspokenness and gritty determination, she collided with the fundamentalist messianic group referred to as the Taliban, who were so intolerant of her outspoken views and daring advocacy, attempted to kill her as she travelled to school by bus.

Her ordeal is well documented in social media sites accessible to anyone interested in her story.

Malala called for universal access to education.

A simple girl from Waziristan, shot by the Taliban for insisting on going to school, addressed the world body, and her composure and delivery were truly remarkable. She spoke in English , a language not her own, yet most pollitically charged leaders would not have done much better than her.

In an impassioned address from the podium at the United Nations to more than 1,000 youth leaders from more than 100 countries, Malala called for "a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism".

In many countries around the globe, the cause which Malala advocates is no propaganda coup as many subscribers to the social media site Facebook believe when I posed a simple question whether she was a heroine or a pawn in the war of ideas.

In South Africa readers will recall Nkosi Johnston, a tiny frail African child who addressed an august gathering of heads of state at the ICC in Durban appealing to the world to end the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. His face became the rallying cause against prejudice regarding HIV/AIDS. In a simple, scripted and impassioned speech he exposed the denialist President (at the time) Thabo Mbeki. Was he a pawn or a hero?

In similar vein, its trite that girls in most, if not all developing countries around the globe face the challenges and deprivation that Malala shouted out against and for which she is still a marked person. And this leads me to pose this question to you reading this, is Malala Yousufzai a heroine or a pawn in the war of ideas?

In my estimation she is... a heroine.

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