Reading Malala’s Diary

Nov 2012

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My second point is merely this: Malala’s diary is not a diary. Her articles at the BBC Urdu are not the personal ramblings of a Swati teenager about all the concerns that doubtless occupy anyone her age. Malala was given a specific task by the BBC, evident in the paragraph that sits atop every one of her articles. These are the BBC’s explanatory lines (in translation): “In Swat, the Taliban have banned girls from school starting on January 15th. To learn what these female students must be dealing with, the BBC Urdu is publishing the story of a 7th grader in the form of diary. For security reasons, the diary will be published by her under the pseudonym, “Gul Makai”.” It is, in short, Malala’s thoughts on the Taliban that make her work newsworthy.

Terming these articles, a “diary,” is, thus, an instrumental misnomer because it gestures towards intimacy where there is none, as if to imply that one is being made privy to the entirety of Malala’s world in all its full-blown complexity. It lends itself to the impression that if the Taliban happen to occupy a central position in this “diary,” then the Taliban must indeed be the central, even sole actor that dominates all political and social space. It makes invisible the configuration of a multitude of agents and issues and obscures the location of the Taliban among them. Even if a reader understands that she is not reading the unfiltered thoughts of a Swati teenager, it does not preclude coming to imagine Malala’s world as comprising of the TTP because little information exists in mainstream media to render the complicated political and social worlds of Swat with any clarity.

A “diary” as a media technique is, thus, a duplicitous form: it claims to make a world transparent by feigning intimacy even as it works to obfuscate the very assemblages that one must understand  to deal with the predicament at hand. I am not charging media organizations with a hidden agenda except profit: intimacy sells. That’s why the BBC packages an article series on a specific issues, filtered and framed by its editors, as a “diary.”

Finally, all of this does not eviscerate the bold voice of a teenager who speaks and speaks loudly where many of us would have quailed. But, as readers removed in time and space, it will take a certain reading against the grain to recover that voice, to appreciate its fullness and, thus, to move towards a deep solidarity. Malala’s voice can lead us, but only if we begin by asking: What do we read when we read Malala?

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24 Responses to Reading Malala’s Diary

  1. […] welcome the question. Malala’s own diaries speak time and again to the abuses of the TTP in her beloved Swat. But, the responses in the paper […]

  2. Meliza on Jan 2013 at 6:04 AM

    Ralph Wilson_NDThese days are so very important for all of us when we know that if we stand up for soehtming there may be one or more violent people who oppose what we think is important. I live in Washington DC and am glad for the many ways people can contribute toward world peace. This young girl’s stance has strengthened my hope for the world. Such a young person yet such a wise and valiant stance. I hope that she has a long life and that she always feels the sustaining love that her community and many, many people in the world hold for her. Thank you for creating the International Children’s Peace Prize; I’m sure that it is bringing much encouragement to many young people in many different communities. The children are the hope of the future.

    • Avi on Jan 2013 at 3:09 AM

      Thank you for your comment!In no way do I in any way state that Islam does not give women equal rhitgs. On the contrary that is exactly what I’m saying. I do believe, though, that the version of Islam that the Taliban practice is not one accepted by the principles of the religion. In no way does the religion condone violence of any sort, particularly against a young 14 year old girl! May I suggest you re-read my post and some of my previous ones to get a better picture of my opinions

  3. naushad on Jun 2014 at 11:06 PM

    we muslim often says that “we are muslim and we there is no rul for girls education.
    but naushad says that a good muslim must be a good human being and our humanity allow for girls to be educated.

    • Aparna A S on Sep 2016 at 11:07 AM

      She is a role model to every girls

    • Aparna A S on Sep 2016 at 11:07 AM

      She is a role model to every girls

  4. shrek on Aug 2014 at 3:27 AM

    Great girl ever living in this world .
    such brave , inspiring , great !!!
    burqa avenger who defeat taliban evil organisation .

    • sajid on Oct 2014 at 12:16 PM

      and who also say that that the black borqa remind here the age of darkness ….bullshit

      • rania khan on Apr 2015 at 12:25 PM

        you are totally right.if she is so much against burqa then why is she wearing the scarf on her head?this is also the like of burqa.the book clearly describe her as an anti Islamic girl.otherwise i encourage her bravery.

  5. pikachu on Oct 2014 at 2:52 PM

    i am a 12 yr old girl reading about malala and it sickens me to know that the tailban do things like killing innocent men and women and shooting malala for using the voice that she was given

  6. […] el 12 de julio de 1997 en la ciudad de Mingora (Pakistán), adquirió notoriedad al escribir un blog para la BBC utilizando el seudónimo de Gul Makai. En dicho blog denunciaba las atrocidades sufridas bajo el […]

  7. […] el 12 de julio de 1997 en la ciudad de Mingora (Pakistán), adquirió notoriedad al escribir un blog para la BBC utilizando el seudónimo de Gul Makai. En dicho blog denunciaba las atrocidades sufridas bajo el […]

  8. […] Yousufzai the Swat girl who wrote diaries as “Gul Makai” for the BBC Urdu service and was shot by Taliban on speaking for Girls right of education won this years Nobel Peace […]

  9. Adnan ullah on Oct 2014 at 12:51 PM

    the great girl! who ensure that we are the nation of peace and are the way blocker of all type of terror. malala, the true Pakistani and true Muslim. I am proud of you……

    • Adnan khan on Oct 2014 at 3:27 PM

      but I am not agree with her father and the people that handed her and using her. she is a child but she must realize that she would not used by other communities for anti muslim and anti Pakistan movements

  10. rajesh s on Jan 2015 at 12:18 AM

    Malala has teach the sprit to never stop fighting for injustice.
    Caran D’ Ache

  11. Mamta Gehlot on Jan 2015 at 11:59 PM

    Malala JI ne is age me girls k liye Jo kiya h wo wakyi kabil-a-tarif h, jis age me unhe pdna likhna chahiye us age me unhone dusri girls k education k liye struggle liya, yha tk ki wo Taliban se shot hone k bad v nhi dri or apna career bachpn KO bachane me LGA diya. She is really great girl,

  12. diana montez on Jan 2015 at 1:34 PM

    Malala is such a nice girl and so strong

  13. diana montez on Jan 2015 at 1:34 PM

    Malala is so strong of a girl

  14. Snehal Jadhav on Jan 2015 at 1:25 AM

    My daughter has been participated in fancy dress as a malala yousufzai and i m honoured and pleasured to see my daughter as a brave girl malala .Hatts off.

  15. sharon on Feb 2015 at 3:16 AM

    Hi I am an educational specialist working for an organization that prepares online learning material for schools and students. I want to use an extract from malala’s diary entries? can i use them or will i face copywright issues. How do i get permission to use them?

  16. Ali on Mar 2015 at 3:01 AM

    I think the greater issue here is that its not Taliban that are responsible for the dire situation of education and then girls education at large in Pakistan. as religious groups were never given a huge vote bank by mainstream Pakistanis . Pakistani cultural attitude and academic thought has mostly been generated and dominated by university graduates not madrassas graduates. the issue here is that those very people that have been depriving Pakistani people of their basic rights, namelyt their elite beaurucracy is also now lapping up the role of malala rescuers. these people do nothing, other than run some slogans, some programs etc but nothing is achieved because their is no hard work and money going into providing Pakistani people with education. what sickens me perhaps more is how this issue is handled pn international platforms.that in western circles there are also lobbies with their war mongering agendas that marginalise already poverty and illiteracy stricken people of poorer countries. its just depressing all around.

  17. Ala ud din Jutt on Oct 2015 at 10:21 AM

    Malal make a big success in the world but i think it is a part of a big propaganda.

  18. Harshel on Nov 2016 at 12:21 PM

    Hi Malala. My name is Harshel and I live in Canada. In our grade 4 class we have to do a biography on a famous person so I choose you. I have a few questions for you.

    1. What is your daily routine in your life? What do you do on a normal day.
    2. Why do you support education? Why didn’t you support something else that was good?
    3. How is your life after your injury? Do any difficulties?
    4. In which ways did your parents support you? How did they help you in early years and today.
    5. What was your plan to stop the Taliban? Did you have a plan?

    May you please reply to these questions as soon as possible. Reply at the email

    Thank you for your time,

    Sincerely Harshel.

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