A courageous young girl flees her nomadic home in the Somalian desert to develop a passion for fashion, she is the desert flower. However what she had been through as a young child and the challenges she had to face no one in the modern western society can even fathom. Escaping horrors, we learn of a determined and driven women who had the desire to fulfil her thoughts of making a different life.She knew she was different so she made a change. Waris went from a young desert nomad to a fashion model to a UN human rights activist.
Desert Flower is written as an autobiography (with assistance writing by Cathleen Miller) of her challenge and path that she has taken as a young women. It is her personal story of loss, gain, happiness, fear and many other things that shape her to the person she is today. I am not a woman of colour nor have lived the dramatic changes in a third world country and then arriving in a first world place however I do find Waris Dirie to have an inspirational story. Reading her story has challenged me but also benefitted me. It is hard to understand where she has come from as my world is so different thousands of kilometres away. I recommend her, this story as a great read. You may feel you have no interest yet I especially speak the women in this world who want to find themselves, their confidence, their passion, to read this book to take a look in on another woman’s life.
“I made up my mind, this was not the life for me”, this straight up decision was how determined and stubborn Waris is. Waris shows she is so against her parents choices at a young age, mainly against her father. When she first actually admits that this is not what she wants in life is when her father brings her new husband home. A husband who is old and grey, she’s only about 13 or 14. Her personality continues to blossom as she grows. As a young woman in the modern western society, I feel I relate to Waris Dirie. Not where she came from but the type of person that she has always been. I am surrounded by few that choose to be this way but also my own mind set is stubborn and determined. An example of my decisions that are against others for example would be the pressures of having a relationship at a young age. This is just one basic scenario however it is a peer pressure that we must have one at such a young age but I don’t see the great deal of benefit with it. Or maybe for other teenagers it is the pressure to chose university over there real passions. This is a societal and family influence and the teenagers of this generation are being taught to go to university as it is believed to be the only option for a future. Waris knew that marrying an old man was not the right future for her. Waris knows what she wants and knows it is hard but she is driven. Waris is driven to push through the challenges in life. Her family members disagree with her choice to leave her mother as Somalian women work for each other yet she knew that she was going to see her again. She pushed the challenge that she could stay in London instead of being held back from the world and taken back to Somalia. Waris knew she was different and had to leave the nomadic lifestyle. Knowing that Waris stood up for what she believes in, stood up against her family, stood up against the battles. This has opened my eyes wider to making me understand that standing up is just the start of making a difference. I may be like Waris and have the drive, the determination but to do something like her means we have to take a step even if that step is into the unknown. Waris Dirie always flipped the impossible to possible.
Waris uses memory as a writing technique. Everything that happens to her in the present or future has a direct correlation to her past memories. She began to raise awareness for female genital mutilation as she was circumcised at the age of five by a woman with an unclean knife. This was part of her story. It is a tradition to tell stories in the African cultures as it is the way they teach and I personally relate to this style as if I were to reflect on my life, or put it too paper I would use all my memories to write my story. Stories and memories from my past could tech my family or friends something about me. Each story or memory is a part of me, it is something that shaped me as a person. The stories are not only value for there lesson, they are a value of life. With story telling of memories and important lessons in Waris Dirie’s life, it became important to her to write her story down. It was strange not being able to tell the people she loved for years. So she decided to share it with the world not knowing it would have such an impact on readers. Waris also went through a very tough time as she married a man to be able to stay in the country, however he was not loving towards her. The book could almost be a form of catharsis for Waris as all the memories of happiness and challenge reminded her that she can get through things. Memories are an amazing part of our brains, and without them we cannot remember the times we were strong or bold or anything but just another human. Memories for us are an awakening.
Sometimes we never know what we will find in a piece of text or behind the next page of a novel, however when you find something great, bold, and true you could tackle it with your mind and open up what it is saying to you. Lessons are made by the words taught in Waris Dirie’s Desert Flower.