I Am a Girl from Africa: A Memoir of Empowerment, Community, and Hope (Paperback)
A “profound and soul-nourishing memoir” (Oprah Daily) from an African girl whose near-death experience sparked a lifelong dedication to humanitarian work that helps bring change across the world.
When severe drought hit her village in Zimbabwe, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, then only eight, had no idea that this moment of utter devastation would come to define her life’s purpose. Unable to move from hunger and malnourishment, she encountered a United Nations aid worker who gave her a bowl of warm porridge and saved her life—a transformative moment that inspired Elizabeth to dedicate herself to giving back to her community, her continent, and the world.
In the decades that have followed, Elizabeth has been instrumental in creating change and uplifting the lives of others: by fighting global inequalities, advancing social justice for vulnerable communities, and challenging the status quo to accelerate women’s rights around the world. She has served as a senior advisor at the United Nations, where she launched HeForShe, one of the world’s largest global solidarity movements for gender equality. In I Am a Girl from Africa, she charts this “journey of perseverance” (Entertainment Weekly) from her small village of Goromonzi to Harare, Zimbabwe; London; New York; and beyond, always grounded by the African concept of ubuntu—“I am because we are”—taught to her by her beloved grandmother.
This “victorious” (The New York Times Book Review) memoir brings to vivid life one extraordinary woman’s story of persevering through incredible odds and finding her true calling—while delivering an important message of hope, empowerment, community support, and interdependence.
About the Author
Elizabeth Nyamayaro is an award-winning humanitarian and Special Advisor for United Nations World Food Programme. Born in Zimbabwe, Elizabeth has worked at the forefront of global development for over two decades improving the lives of underserved populations and has held leadership roles at the World Bank, World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and UN Women. I Am a Girl from Africa is her first book.
"Nyamayaro’s writing is particularly moving when describing personal tragedies like the losses of her beloved grandmother, Gogo, of her uncle, of her various mentors in the field. And Africa is ever the source of its own solutions ... victorious."
—New York Times Book Review
"Nyamayaro explores this transformative moment in her childhood and how it drove her to become an activist and fierce advocate for change. She shares personal stories of perseverance as she reflects on what it took to make it to the U.N. herself as a Senior Advisor, where she went on to launch the HeForShe campaign."
"HeForShe founder Elizabeth Nyamayaro tells her story for the first time in I Am a Girl from Africa, which traces her childhood in Zimbabwe, her journey as a humanitarian, and her work as a United Nations Senior Advisor."
"[A] stirring memoir."
—Good Morning America
"A childhood near-death experience caused by severe drought in her village in Zimbabwe — and a lifesaving intervention by a U.N. worker — spawns Nyamayaro’s lifelong dedication to humanitarian work; she writes about her journey of perseverance and path to becoming a senior advisor at the U.N. in her memoir."
"In her stirring memoir I Am a Girl From Africa, the humanitarian, who grew up in a small village in rural Zimbabwe, recounts the day a U.N. aid worker rescued her from famine—and how that lifesaving encounter inspired her to become a living embodiment of the Nguni Bantu word 'ubuntu,' which means 'I am because we are.'"
"Nyamayaro's journey has given her unique perspective and incredible wisdom that make this book an inspiring call to action for anyone hoping to make the world a better place."
—Town and Country
"Nyamayaro’s heartwarming and inspirational story is symbolic of the faith, community uplift, and interdependence a girl from anywhere needs to soar."
"Elizabeth Nyamayaro's I Am a Girl from Africa tells the story of the former United Nations senior advisor's inspiring full-circle journey after a UN aid worker saved her life when she was eight years old. Later in her life, she would go on to launch the HeForShe campaign and help bring change across the globe."
—Marie Claire, 25 Great 2021 Memoirs to Pre-Order Now
"A moving account of a determined young woman’s journey from poverty to humanitarian activism ... Throughout this memorable account of her impressive life, the author recalls 'the central, definitive African value and philosophy of ubuntu: that when we uplift others, we are ourselves uplifted.' An inspiring narrative that will be especially valuable to young people seeking to work for humanitarian causes."
"The striking title of this memoir establishes the very foundation of who the author, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, is. As the content is built upon this base, readers will find that they are occupying the story of a truly exceptional human being ... A deeply personal and richly inspirational self-portrait."
"Nyamayaro’s steadfast pursuit of her goals is mirrored by steady narrative pacing; readers will cheer on her uncompromising commitment. Her life example provides a beacon for ambitious change-makers."
"Elizabeth Nyamayaro has written a wonderfully accessible and moving memoir that masterfully weaves her own story into the contemporary fight for global gender equity. Traveling with Nyamayaro — from Tblisi to Montevideo — is both inspiring and maddening, seeing all that has been accomplished and all that’s left to do. Somehow, through it all, she manages to maintain an unwavering optimism — and a belief in the power of NGOs, education, collaboration, and even (gasp) globalism — that buoys the soul and reminds us that there’s no progress without progressives, no light without the torch-bearers."
– Dave Eggers, author of The Parade and The Captain and the Glory
"From the first page to the last, I could not put down this book. I Am a Girl from Africa is a story that can uplift and inspire every girl and boy from every part of the world. Beautifully told, and beautifully lived."
– Angela Duckworth, author of Grit
“More than a heartwarming and uplifting memoir, I Am a Girl from Africa is a story of millions of girls around the world – and a true testament of what is possible when girls are given an equal right to quality education. Through Elizabeth’s remarkable story, we are reminded that education remains a closest thing to a silver bullet when it comes to gender equality.”
– Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General, UN Women