NERVOUS CONDITIONS

The title of this book is title from a line by Fanon’s in his “The wretched of the earth”. ‘The condition of native is a nervous condition.’ 

This is a story set in the sixties in the last century, when Zimbabwe was Rhodesia. It is a story of a clash between two views on society, two ways of living. On the one hand we see the young girl Tambu(dzai) who longs for a good education. Tambu works hard to earn some money to get her into school and keep her there. She gets help from her uncle Babamukwa, who teaches at a missionschool. He studied abroad, in South Africa and the United Kingdom where he obtained his Masters. He wants to uplift his family and relatives. Tambu (and her brother) gets the opportunity to stay with her uncle, whose household has a different way of living as Tambu is used to. The influence of the world abroad is present. Babamukwa has two children, one of them is the daughter Nyasha, who lived abroad and has taken her experience with her.

So in this book we see the clash between old and new, between local and international. We see the clash between homegrown wisdom and educational wisdom. We see the clash between two cultures. We see the colonization of the mind and the loss of what was. We see the cultural gap in the live of Nyasha, who hardly speaks Shona, when she arrives in Rhodesia. 

Tsitsi herself spent some years in the United Kingdom at an early age, later she moved to Cambridge to study medicine and she came back to Harare in 1980. So in her own life she has experienced the clash of cultures, the loss and the gain. 

I enjoyed reading this book about a situation between two cultures. This is a situation in which many people find themselves, not just in Zimbabwe.

Tsitsi Dangarembga – Nervous conditions – 1988

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