Finding our common humanity with Elizabeth Nyamayaro

Richard Branson's Literati interview with Elizabth Nyamayaro
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Published on 10 December 2021

I’ve always believed that the biggest challenges of our time also present the biggest opportunities. This is why we started Virgin Unite – to bring together people and use entrepreneurial ideas to find solutions that create a better world. 

Someone who lives by this belief is an incredible humanitarian and author called Elizabeth Nyamayaro. I was so inspired by her story that I put her memoir forward for my Literati Book Club earlier this year, and recently sat down with her for an Ask The Author interview. I Am a Girl From Africa recounts Elizabeth’s life journey – from nearly starving as a child in Zimbabwe, through to working on the forefront of global development. As she wrote in her book:

“She squeezes my hand and smiles. “I am here to feed hungry children in the village, because as Africans we must uplift each other.” I don’t understand what it means to uplift others, but I nod. I know that I can finally stand up. I will search for food. I will live.”

Her story is such an inspiring reminder of our common humanity and the power of persistence. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.

RIchard Branson Ask The Author interview with Elizabeth Nyamayaro

It was incredible to hear how Elizabeth turned such a challenging personal experience into a life spent empowering others. As Elizabeth said in our conversation: “There is always meaning in everything that happens to us, even if you don’t see it at the time.” I also loved the phrase her Gogo taught her which says: “However long the night, dawn always breaks.”

We also spoke about the importance of Ubuntu – an African philosophy that explains how we are all connected by our shared humanity, and why equality is everybody’s responsibility. What impacts one of us will impact all of us, so solidarity and allyship should never be underestimated. “You should dare to dream a dream for others,” Elizabeth’s Gogo would say to her.

On Human Rights Day, Elizabeth’s message about lifting each other up and always giving back - no matter how small the act - feels more important than ever. Elizabeth’s life changed when she was handed a bowl of porridge from a UN aid worker, and just look what impact that created.

Read I Am a Girl From Africa to learn more about Elizabeth’s story, and join my Literati book club to find my latest recommendation.