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Education in Nervous Conditions.

Education is often regarded as beneficial for people and necessary for
advancement where people willingly accept to get educated. However in
the case of Africa, education was forced on the population, especially
western education. Although the Africans had an established medium of
education, western education came to replace it and this education
under the façade of benefiting the society was there to exploit the
people. Western education destroyed the people’s culture exploiting
their intellect and their labor. The African’s medium of education was
there to inculcate the values and culture of the tribes and this way
of educating people was seen as inferior and the Europeans believed in
an eradication of that type of education: “The traditional African
educational systems, in their various forms, served the needs of the
African people much more than the colonial educational system ever

Colonial education brought forward by missionaries was intended to
make the local people westernized and follow or corporate with the
western government: “colonial African education was not based on a
desire to educate the African people, but a desire to have the ability
to control the African people.” Students who follow colonial
education are torn between the western world and their own African
world and they have this feeling of not belonging to either culture.
They don’t want to follow their own culture as they feel superior to
it and the white world does not accept them either. The Africans have
adopted alongside with the colonial education, the values of the
western world and this makes these students move away from the
traditional world of Africa. The young generation would feel that
through this education they had acquire too many skills to be able to
get a proper gob in their society which they consider as backwards and
when they leave their country for the colonial empire they are

In Dangarembga's Nervous conditions, we are presented with the
westernization of various characters through education. British
education plays a great role in the novel where Tambu, Babamukuru,
Nhamo and Nyasha, all bear the impact of this education. Dangarembga’s
gives weight to Kachru’s ‘alchemy of English’ where: “Tambu tells us
that "white wizards" from the south who were "well versed in treachery
and black magic" educated her uncle Babamukuru (18-9)” Tambu knows
that the British education is an important way to enable her to evade
her two major biological roles, that of being a woman and of being
black, which have imprisoned her in her culture. When the novel starts
Tambu is seen as being happy at her brother’s death as this is
enabling her to go to a western school where the colonial education

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this was a privilege offered only to boys. Tambu: “in some ways
allegorical of colonial education while her mother is represented as
its antithesis.” Tambu’s mother is worried that the colonial education
will make her become like Nyasha and that she would assimilate the
culture of the colonizer and forget her own one.

Nyasha and Maiguru are made to give in to the colonial education and
this makes them isolated from other Shona women as these women think
that they are rich and too educated. They themselves feel alienated
because their colonial education in a way prompted them to see the
inferiority of the Shona culture. They are also respected for their
education and in some cases, for example, when Maiguru is invited to
assist a patriarchal council about a local dispute, thus she is given
status and respect. Colonial education is portrayed as being: “both a
liberating yet stifling entity in the context of nervous conditions”
Tambu knows that western education will have negative repercussions on
her cultural life as she sees how Nyasha is distressed at not knowing
her culture and the way her brother acts as having forgotten Shona
culture, even though she is aware of this she still feel s that
westernization and colonial education is a must.

Tambu starts to feel alienated from the Shona culture after she
attends the British school, she starts to assimilate the language of
the colonizer and this language in integral part of education
operates: “like a sweeping industry upon the landscape, an
assimilation machine which re-marks the other in terms of Western
society's perceptions and her own self-perceptions”. Tambu thinks that
she is progressing through the assimilation of the colonial language
and education but she does not seem to know that she is losing her own
cultural education and her own language. Tambu wants to be colonized
and she is in a way ‘seduced’ by the colonial education where she
thinks that she would be freed from all cultural repressions. The
British education encourages within Tambu: “a self-generated,
"natural" desire for Western assimilation” when she talks about the
college for young ladies.

Edward Said says in his Orientalism that the British colonisers the
people through ‘power intellectual’ where education is used to make
colonial subjects serve the colonizers. Tambu is shown as wanting to
assimilate western education whereas Nyasha is shown as the “embodiment
of anti colonial English language\ education,” and she advises Tambu
that her going to the convent would make her "forget who you were,
what you were and why you were that.” Education has its benefits where
it frees women like Maiguru from being servants to the capitalist
world and where education gives women the power to subvert patriarchy,
however the colonial education alienates people and when the family of
Nyasha comes back to their homeland they feel that they do not belong
to this uneducated world and the feel the need to escape from their
own people instead of helping them. Tambu believes that education is
the only solution to the state of her country and Nyasha says that:
“the education of solitary family members will not solve the ills of
rural poverty:” however in the end of the novel Tambu starts realizing
that this education is not what she had thought it to be. Nyasha
actively condemned the colonial education and she attempts to regain
control of her own culture. “Nyasha fails in multiple ways as "good
native": both in her failure to accept the totality of colonial
education and in her failure to renounce”

Ngugi wa Thiong-o, in his book 'Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of
Language in African Literature,' condemns colonial education as this
alienates the Africans ho are intellectuals from their people and the
nation they are supposed to serve. In nervous conditions this fact is
portrayed through characters such as Nhamo and Tambu; however Ngugi
portrays males as the only one competent to fight physically and
psychologically against the impact of colonial education and that
women react in very different ways to this impact. Tistsi
Dangarembga's Nervous conditions, shows that this is not the case
when' the female protagonist uses colonial education to escape from
her subordinate state and to achieve her personal goals." However we
are also that education doubly alienates women where for example
Maiguru who despite the fact she has an advance education is always
answerable to Babamukuru and even when she walks out of home she goes
to her brother which is another patriarchy, she is rendered homeless.
Nyasha also knows that she has become an educated woman with limited
choices for expansion and her liberal British education in the end
makes her mentally tired.

British education for Tambu is a necessity and being able to speak to
be educated in English: “constitutes the utterance of intelligence --
both within and outside of the colonized country”. Tambu lives
experiences with language and education that are bittersweet, and her
story in some ways reflects the personal history of Titsi
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