cover image I Am a Girl from Africa

I Am a Girl from Africa

Elizabeth Nyamayaro. Scribner, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982113-01-8

Nyamayaro’s determined debut memoir chronicles the fearlessness that took her from a desperately underprivileged childhood in Zimbabwe to founder of the HeForShe gender equality movement, an effort begun under the auspices of UN Women. The narrative moves between her career and her youth in Zimbabwe, where she was saved from dying of hunger when “an angel, dropped from heaven,” who wore a UNICEF uniform, offered her porridge and water. She then became determined to work for the UN, “where I too would be able to uplift the lives of others.” In 2000, at 25 years old, she moved to London and announced: “I am here to pursue my dream,” but discovered there was no local UN office. So started her scrappy effort to make it to Geneva. She began by braiding women’s hair for cash, worked as a sales rep doing cold calls to put herself through college, and talked her way into her first UN job as part of a project to fight AIDS in Africa. She credits her rise from there to her steadfast belief, rooted in African ubuntu philosophy, that “if one person is uplifted, then others also rise.” 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. Agent: Erin Malone, WME (Apr.)