Malala Yousafzai—A Humble Warrior
Williams Jennings Bryan could have been talking about Malala Yousafzai when he said in 1896 that “the humblest [wo]man in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error.” The 2014 Nobel Peace co-laureate is not physically imposing. Indeed, Malala described herself in her Nobel lecture as only “5 foot 2 inches tall, if you include my high heels.” But an unassuming stature, coupled with a penchant for self-deprecation, masks an indomitable spirit. When she was critically wounded by a gunman’s bullet in 2012, Malala not only recovered in record time, but she came back bolder and more determined to champion the cause that had made her a target in the first place—female education in Taliban-controlled areas of Pakistan.
Malala was very much on my mind when we visited the Nobel Peace Center as part of our Peace Seminar. The experience and the example of this courageous 17-year-old laureate imbued me with a burning sense that, at the ripe old age of 19, I too can contribute my bit to making the world around me a better place. Gazing upon a display of the purple uniform Malala had worn on the day of the attack, I felt inspired to throw myself wholeheartedly into a cause I am passionate about. If Malala could stare down the barrel of a murderer’s gun, what excuse do I have?
Last month, up to 200 people lost their lives in Accra, the capital of my native Ghana, when torrential rain flooded the city and caused an explosion at a fuel station. This disaster came amid years of economic mismanagement and crippling power outages. All these problems can be traced, in one way or the other, to the activities of inept and corrupt public officials.
As I aspire to a career as a practicing politician, I will always stay true to the lodestar called Malala—an unwavering reminder that my responsibility, first and foremost, is to the people I serve. As the newly-elected Student Council representative of my Scandinavian Government and Politics class, I hope to be guided by her selfless example.