All freedom-loving people outside Afghanistan and around the world hoped for a new free vibrant democracy in Afghanistan after the US-led NATO invasion in 2001. This book “Raising my Voice” by Malalai Joya, who is the youngest and famous MP in Afghanistan shows a different reality on what’s happening in Afghanistan due to the continued power of Warlords there. Malalai Joya should certainly be appreciated for speaking out bold and fearless against the warlords.
While reading the book I felt it be repetitive in many places, beyond the first few chapters where Joya has already made her point I had to literally force myself to get through the entire book. Joya’s description of her first speech in Loya Jirga & in parliament felt just rhetoric made by an amateur with no diplomacy, speaking fearlessly alone doesn’t achieve anything. This could be because of her inexperience and lack of support systems in Afghanistan for training on politics and democracy. In the book, Joya doesn’t show the reader any substantive evidence for the crimes committed by the warlords and the present government headed by President Hamid Karzai is equally guilty of crimes. To some extent in the last four chapters where she quotes international & UN data points & reports she has addressed this deficiency.
In her speeches, she makes far-reaching comments on how the Government & Religion should be kept separate, how Religion should be respected/followed/treated as an individual personal right & choice. While narrating her story she uses a coined last name (Joya), doesn’t reveal her father or mother’s name, not even her husband name for protecting their identity and safety. Not to sound demeaning but I found it strange on how she expects to conceal these facts when for example her marriage was attended by thousands of her supporters from many parts of the province (Farah) and so on.
She ends the book by saying real peace & freedom to women & children in Afghanistan will come only with the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan, but she doesn’t say how it will come and through whom. In these aspects, the book could have benefited immensely by having a better editor to polish the scripts and chronicle them better. The book closes with a fine paragraph “But if I should die, and you choose to carry on my work, you are welcome to visit my grave. Pour some water on it and shout three times, I want to hear your voice”