A Girl Named Disaster Questions and Answers
by Nancy Farmer

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What was the problem and solution in A Girl Named Disaster?

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The main problem in the story is that Nhamo is an orphan and she is ordered to marry the brother of the man her father killed.  The solution is that she runs away to Zimbabwe and eventually lives with scientists.

The protagonist is a girl named Nhamo, which means “disaster.”  She is from a village in Mozambique.  Her father was a Catholic who refused to pay a bride price to marry her, killed a man, and fled.  Her mother had to have her alone, and thus her name. 

When there is a cholera outbreak in the village, a muvuki medicine man declares that a wandering spirit caused the illness because of the murder.  They declare that Nhamo must marry the brother of the murdered man, who is old and has many wives.  Nhamo is only eleven years old.

“The girl must be given to the brother of Gore Mtoko as a junior wife.  As you know, she will really be the bride of ngozi, and her first son will bear his name.” (Ch 9, p. 62)

Nhamo’s grandmother tells her to run away to Zimbawe, and she does.  She gets lost in the wilderness but eventually finds people at a research center, where she learns English and goes to school, and eventually lives a better life.

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