"Nervous Conditions" by Tsitsi Dangarembga

1009 Words5 Pages
"Nervous Conditions" is a semi-autobiographical story about Tambu, a young girl growing up in rural Rhodesia in the 1960's, and her search for a way out - for both herself and her family - of the tremendous poverty of homestead life in a colonized African country. Narrated through the eyes of young Tambu, the story is told with child-like simplicity about her and her family fighting to survive in a complex world of Imperialism, racism, and class and gender inequality. In hindsight, Dangarembga allows the protagonist's narrative to slowly unravel the meaning of her and her family's struggle with their assimilation into the strange and powerful culture of their rulers. The wealth of her uncle Babamukuru coupled with the back-breaking poverty of her parents provide Tambu with a stark contrast between the lives of the educated and the non-educated. From an early age it is clear to her that education is the key to succeeding in the world of "white wizards." She also knows from an early age that, being female, her education was not as important as that of her brother, and was, in fact, disapproved of by her parents. As a female, she was expected to work at home as her mother had done all her life unquestionably, as was the tradition in her culture. But Tambu would not accept her role in life as it stood. Her mother's life was hard and miserable; in her view it was simply because she was uneducated. Babamukuru's wife, on the other hand, had accompanied him to England to be educated. Education had given Maiguru and her husband the means to make money, the means to live comfortably, the means to live with pride and decency. This was Tambu's vision of the way things were when she was young: simple, black and white. At an early age ... ... middle of paper ... ...nation of her own. Perhaps it is a metaphor for the struggle of all people living under the yoke of imperialism as a whole, an inward fight against complacency towards one's oppression. " 'Do you see what they have done?' Nyasha had said. 'They have taken us away! All of us! They have deprived you of you, him of him, ourselves of each other. We are groveling. Lucia for a job, Jeremiah for money. Daddy grovels to them. We grovel to him' "(p.200). Nyasha's personal revolution, in the end, did not succeed. To Tambu, however, she was a freedom fighter and a hero. Ultimately, because of Nyasha's fight, the seeds of distrust within her grew and flowered. She could no longer sweep away, or bury inside, the feelings she had about the world around her, about the injustice that had been done to her and to her family. She faced up to herself and was no longer silent.
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