Illuminating and uplifting, I Am a Girl from Africa is a must-read ... While I Am a Girl from Africa deals with the heavy subjects of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity, and women’s roles in development, the book’s tone is hopeful, even playful. Nyamayaro masterfully brings in African cultural concepts to uplift a story that could become dark. She sprinkles Shona language into the text and uses the Bantu tendency to double a word for emphasis. Each chapter begins with a proverb from a different African country. This gives the book a feeling of authenticity ... This book has larger themes that make it deserving of a wider readership than one might expect at first glance ... Perhaps most important, in this slim memoir there is a plan for creating real and lasting change that can be applied to any number of intractable social ills ... Nyamayaro gives a beautiful example of the powerful messages of heretofore unheard voices. This book demands that we listen ... If you’re a woman, a person of color, an immigrant, someone who has experienced hardship, has a medical issue, or who simply wants to read a story that will both inspire and make you smile, pick up a copy of I Am a Girl from Africa. You likely will not put it down until you’ve read it cover to cover.
Nyamayaro tells the rich story of building a career in the dizzying world of international NGOs ... The UNICEF worker’s emphasis on self-reliance is key to the book’s rejection of what Teju Cole called 'the White Savior Industrial Complex.' For Nyamayaro, when it comes to hunger, gender inequality and the H.I.V./AIDS epidemic, the only hope is 'solutions by Africans for Africans.' Examples throughout the book of such insight and agency on the continent are empowering; however, they are still filtered through the very same global complex ... Her humanitarian accomplishments are so many that the memoir often reads as an elaborate commercial for the U.N., the W.H.O. and UNICEF, but the narrative isn’t all about triumphs. Nyamayaro’s writing is particularly moving when describing personal tragedies ... Nyamayaro’s worldview has been shaped as much by ubuntu as by that industrial complex. It is to her credit that she presents the two as complementary, though for cynics that might be harder to accept ... not a book for cynics. Even though it’s rooted in the colonial and postcolonial history of Zimbabwe, the name Robert Mugabe isn’t mentioned once. Nyamayaro is as uninterested in political contradictions as her prose is in subtlety. She is instead adamantly committed to inspiration, and in that, the memoir is victorious.
Nyamayaro deftly compares and contrasts her early upbringing in rural Zimbabwe with her struggles to gain a foothold in London and her eventual successes in her chosen field. She reveals to the reader the generally unexpressed joys and inner rewards of life in village Africa ... Rich with history and folk wisdom, Nyamayaro’s story demonstrates the absolute courage and determination of one 'girl from Africa' to identify and realize her highest aspirations.