Review of 'Ziauddin & Malala Yousafzai In Conversation'


Ever since the incident where Malala Yousafzai, a young school girl, was shot by the Taliban in her home town in Afghanistan she has had the attention of the world through her efforts towards female education. Her story was told in her biography I am Malala and the subsequent film. However, much of what she has become is due to the efforts of her father Ziauddin who has always been a strong proponent of education. The two have always been very close and, indeed, friends. In this talk held at the beautiful Central Hall Westminster in London was on the occasion of Ziauddin's new book “Let Her Fly”. The ticket price included a copy of this book in un-allocated seating.

Malala and Ziauddin

The evening started 15 minutes late with a rain storm causing delays in the audience getting into the building (Ziauddin, a humble man, before answering the first question apologised for the this). The discussion was first with a moderator, Ziauddin and Malala where his upbringing was discussed along with belief in equality that his parents encouraged along with the importance of education. His strength of will had him eventually founding several schools that offered education to both girls and boys. He had always wanted to call his daughter “Malala” after “Malalai of Maiwand”, a poet and warrior who, despite the pressure of society, was her own woman.


When asked about how he met his wife, Tor Pekai, Ziauddin suggested the moderator ask her herself as after 45 minutes the entire family appeared on the stage to answer questions submitted prior to the event, the first time the entire family have appeared together in this way. In the end Tor Pekai suggested the moderator would have to read her book when she writes it (to much amusement of her husband and the audience). She was joined on the stage by their sons, Atal and Khushal. The family are now living in Birmingham with Malala now studying at Oxford Unversity so most speak very good English, indeed, even Tor Pekai who has found it difficult to pick up the language spoke a few words in English herself though, for the most part, spoke through an interpreter. Atal, the younger son, told the audience that he barely remembers Afghanistan and felt uncomfortable when the family returned earlier this year. All of the family appeared quite comfortable on the stage, freely answering the questions put to them and even engaged in a bit of familial squbling, Malala to Khushal: “Why are you always picking on me?”, Khushal: “It is my job”. Later Khushal was incredibly kind when talking of his sister saying how proud he is to be her brother but admitted to not initially telling fellow students of her so he could be sure they liked him for who he was rather than for his relationship with Malala.


The questions submitted to the family were, for the most part, fairly banal and trivial: “What is your favourite book?”, “What books would you take with you on a desert island?” - this question Malala answered with the quip “Why would I want to be on a desert island?”. However, the final question was the most poignant: “Has this event and the events in the world caused you to be less confident in your faith?” At this Ziauddin responded that his Islam is a religion of love, understanding and equality, the religion of the Taliban and other terrorist organisation is not Islam. It is a faith of fear, intolerance and hate.


The 2,100 seat auditorium was full of an eager and interested audience, silent for the most part but on their feet at the end to show their appreciation for the amazing resilience of Ziauddin and Malala. An incredible evening with two incredible people.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2018-11-10

Central Hall Westminster

Location: London (England)

Address: Central Hall Westminster, Storey's Gate, London, SW1H 9NH ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Westminster TUBE St. James's Park

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7222 8010


A grade II listed multi-use facility operated by the Methodist Central Hall with tremendous interiors including the classic entry hall and the amazing main space of the Great Hall which includes a large pipe organ in the middle of the stage and a large balcony.

Located across the street from the front entrance of Westminster Abbey, only a stones throw from Parliament Square and the Houses of Parliament, transport is very good with the nearby Westminster and St. James's tube stations.