After I finished reading Daniel Kahneman’s Noise…. I felt I wanted a break. There was too much to process in that book. My choice was to spend some time with fiction. But then I thought how about switching to Memoir. That is how I got hold of Elizabeth Nyamayaro’s amazing memoir ‘I am a girl from Africa’
Elizabeth Nyamayaro is a political scientist and former senior advisor to the Under secretary General and also Executive director for UN Women. She was also head of the HeForShe movement founded by UN Women to achieve gender equality.
The book starts with a little Elizabeth on the brink of starvation and death lying under a tree during drought. She is saved from there by a (as she refers) the lady in the blue uniform. Later she decides this is the person she wants to be when she grows up. This becomes her life journey.
Elizabeth takes us through her life from being a small kid in Zimbabwe taken care of my her grand mother who she calls Gogo. Her parents had left her with Gogo while she was still a baby.
The book takes you through how when she turned 10 or 11 her mom comes and takes her to the city to live with her mom and dad and siblings. Later she moves to living with her Aunt and Uncle who are much well off. Aunt being a doctor and Uncle an Economist. She also gets to go to a private school and she struggles both in learning and the discrimination she has to face.
Once she finishes High school she makes her way to London wanting to join UN and without a college degree and the fact that UN office is not in London but Switzerland she now has to make a decision, go back or keep moving.
Elizabeth has masterfully narrated her life in London where she picks up a degree and then Masters from London School of Economics and working as janitor and similar roles sustains herself till she secures a position to work with UN.
I am reading a Memoir after so long and it was a great experience for me where I could travel through the book… through Elizabeth’s life. Personally I was feeling guilty for things that complain. Coming from a privileged background we often forget our privileges and instead of taking any effort we complain about the system. The book in a way was an eye opener. At 50 it makes me want to do more.
I would highly recommend this book for both Adults and kids so they can understand what it means to follow a dream. To have the persistence to achieve something in life while giving back to the world.
Another interesting thing I loved about the book is the short quotes she shares at the start of every chapter one of which is “No one is equal, until we are ALL equal.”