Malala Yousafzai may be a fierce defender of women’s rights, she may be a powerful activist, she may be a Nobel Laureate, she may just as well be the embodiment of world peace itself but for her haters, she will never be enough. There she was, standing on one of the most revered platforms of the global film industry, amongst some of the most renowned individuals in the world but all some people could notice was her accent. Her Pakistani accent.
What’s ironic is that it’s Pakistanis themselves criticising her for sounding Pakistani. The woman has lived 15 years of her life in this country — shocker, she actually sounds like she’s from here.
When will people understand that English is not the barometer of a good education and an accent is even less of one? It should certainly not be included in your criteria for respecting someone — it is simply a means of communication. A greater measure of intelligence would be her Oxford degree and her many, many accomplishments.
Another thing worth noting is that English is not her first language but that’s really not the problem here. The people criticising her are the same people who would exoticise and fetishise a French accent or an Italian accent. I don’t know if this should be branded hypocrisy or simply self-hatred stemming from an inferiority complex. News flash — our colonisers left well over half a century ago. I suggest you do something about your colonial hangover because babe, it’s really not healthy to still be fixated over it for seven plus decades.
Additionally, I can almost guarantee that the people mocking her for her Pakistani accent would have even more of an issue had she acquired a British or American accent. She would still have been criticised and called a sellout or she would have become a meme like British-Asian actor Ahsan Khan who’s both here and there at the same time. By this point, we know that people are just looking for reasons to hate her. The woman suffered through an assassination attempt and survived, and no one can stand her actually living her best life after it.
If all you can do is circle her like a vulture, picking at conjured flaws instead of being proud of all she has achieved at such a young age, then, my friend, the problem is you. Because the world knows Malala and the world loves Malala. She is a source of inspiration and I think it’s really cool she sounds Pakistani. Her accent is her identity, the way she speaks is a distinct identifier of her roots and it proves that Malala is very much Pakistani. If that offends you, that’s your problem.
Here’s a message to all the haters — even if your sole purpose in life is to hate, at the very least find something worth hating.