Malala Yousafzai: 'I could either not speak and die, or speak and then die. I chose the second one'

Nobel Peace Prize nominee shines among the stars as she inspires thousands of schoolchildren

“My parents worry a lot about my education, so I want to help other girls who aren’t as lucky as me.” That was the view of 10-year-old Lulia Teama, one of the audience of 12,000 children and teachers who gathered in London today to hear the words of Malala Yousafzai.

The Nobel Peace Prize nominee was one of the star speakers at the first “We Day” youth empowerment event to take place outside North America, at Wembley Arena in London. Tickets to the show, which included performances from Ellie Goulding and Dizzee Rascal and was attended by more than 380 schools across the UK, could not be bought. Instead they were awarded to children who had done one local and one global charitable action.

Affan Ahmad, 17, from Southfields Academy in south London, said: “We saved one snow leopard and we’re going to save a wolf as well.”

Banners with the words “I am Malala” were held aloft as she spoke to the young crowd, encouraging them to help bring education to children in the most deprived parts of the world, and asking them to join her in a 24-hour silence on 17 April to show solidarity to those without a voice.

“It’s our turn to affect a positive change, to stand up for equality and to empower others to join us,” she said. “On 17 April I will go silent to stand in solidarity with my peers who remain voiceless.”

Malala, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012 after speaking out about girls’ right to an education, also described growing up in the shadow of terrorism. “I had two options,” she said. “Not to speak and die, or to speak and then die. I chose the second one.”

Maddie Briggs, 13, from Brentside High in London, said: “I think events like these are really good because I’ve become aware of how many people are really affected across the world.”

Farida Chowdbury, 17, from Cadbury College in Kings Norton, Birmingham, added: “I will definitely be joining in with the 24-hour silence, but it will be really difficult – I talk all the time.”

Alongside the musical performances were motivational speeches from Prince Harry, Sir Richard Branson, and Al Gore.

The Prince proved popular with the youthful audience and at one point screams of “we love you Harry” stopped him in the middle of his talk. “Some people don’t think it’s cool to help others,” he said. “Personally, I think it’s the coolest thing in the world.”

Sir Richard told the crowd to learn from his hero, the late Nelson Mandela, saying :“Go and hug an enemy and make them a friend.”

But, of course, the biggest cheer of the day went to Malala. “Malala was my favourite,” said Lulia, from St Matthew’s Primary School in West Drayton. “I like how she stands up for education and for girls.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones