By Nwachukwu Egbunike
“In many parts of the world especially Pakistan and Afghanistan; terrorism, wars and conflicts stop children to go to their schools. We are really tired of these wars… Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. ”
Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the United Nations reverberated throughout the globe. The reason was obvious: here was a girl who dared to have a say in a nation under terror. In Afghanistan formidable evil had hung a garland of terror around her citizens. And currently in Nigeria, a similar and near invincible power has laid siege on my country.
What makes Malala unique? Her own words suffixes:
Dear Friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.
Yet this teenager exudes confidence and calm. Her serenity despite a near death experience stands in contrast to the expected impact that terrorism wishes to propound – fear! And why would one not stand in awe in the sight of this young girl, who has done what many adults, with twenty life-time dare not achieve? Malala’s courage is laced with humility and forgiveness.
I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him. This is the compassion that I have learnt from Muhammad-the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This is the legacy of change that I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of non-violence that I have learnt from Gandhi Jee, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learnt from my mother and father. This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone.
While the purveyors of hate built trenches of death, Malala teaches – yes, she sits on a professorial saddle – that education is the key to ignorance. This is instructive because the Nigerian merchants will spare nothing, not even the innocents to achieve their diabolical ambition. It is blood cuddling to think that 42 students were brutally butchered and even more numbing that Boko Haram “supports” this massacre.
The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. And that is why they killed 14 innocent medical students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they killed many female teachers and polio workers in Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa and FATA. That is why they are blasting schools every day. Because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring into our society.
Malala inaugural lecture shows that education is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. Boko haram and their conspirators should bury their heads in shame for they claim that their inspiration is religion. This young girl aims a dart that scatters their lies:
They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school. The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and Pashtun society for their own personal benefits. Pakistan is peace-loving democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. And Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. Islam says that it is not only each child’s right to get education, rather it is their duty and responsibility.
And for the sponsors and collaborators of these evil, may they never know peace. And may we win this war on terror. But at the same time, education is the lasting solution to this crisis. As Melala Yousafzai asserts in these lines which held the world spell bond:
So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.