Nervous Conditions

by robinkate

Nervous Conditions is a novel written by Tsitsi Dangarembga illustrating the effects of colonialism and the alienating influence it can have on those involved. Based in post-colonial Africa, the story is narrated by Tambuzdai, a young girl struggling to find her place in a patriarchal society that allows for little to no rights for women. The novel takes us through Tambu’s life as she sees it and demonstrates to us the trials a woman in Africa must undergo in order to encounter some any sort of independence. Throughout Nervous Conditions, the characters struggle to balance the modern ways of the western world with the tradition and culture of their heritage. On her path to higher education, Tambu is faced with the difficult choice of leaving behind her empoverished family and traditional way of life in order to see her dreams through of becoming an independent, empowered woman. “I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologizing for my callousness, as you may define it, or lack of feeling.” These harsh words that make up the first sentences of the novel captivate the reader and give the opportunity to delve head-first into the mind of Tambu. This abrupt matter-of-fact style of narration continues throughout and allows the reader to truly understand the workings of Tambu’s mind.

The characters in this novel face many psychological impacts through colonialism and the system within that exerts pressure on many of the decisions and opportunities that arise. The struggles each character faces of balancing the modern ways of the western world with the tradition and culture of their heritage are made clear, and through this, Nervous Conditions successfully brings about and discusses the impacts colonialism has had on Africa through experiences the characters in this novel go through.

 

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