Nervous Conditions By Tsitsi Dangaremba

Race and Colonialism: 1
Feminism 2

Race and Colonialism:

The theme of Race and colonialism is widely juxtaposed in the novel, for example, Rhodesia was doubly colonized. It starts with scenes in which white men make a judgment in the local Rhodesia community. Tambu is said to be selling food because she is coerced into it. Doris, a white woman asked her:
“‘I’d be shocking myself if I walked by and did not say anything…Is she your little girl? ‘ Without waiting for an answer, she gave him a piece of her mind. ‘Child labor. Slavery! That is what it is’” (28-29).
Actually, Tambu was working hard to raise school fees for her children. Doris wants her to think along the same line, according to the whites, children belong to the husband. In addition, Babamukuru has tried to ensure that his children emulate the whites. He ensures that the children behave just like the whites; he goes to a greater length to marry Maiguru. Babamukuru’s expects his children to excel in their studies. Nhamo is also colonized, after spending only one year, he is not able to speak Shona. He dropped his African identity and westernized himself (52-53).
After asking to go to a different school, Babamukuru’s contemplates Tambo’s request by talking additionally Babamukuru’s is against the idea of Tambu associating with the white people. He is colonized to think that by associating with the white people, the behavior of Nyasha worries him; her eating disorder is put into question and blown out of proportion. While Babamukuru is interested in seeing, the young girls develop into decent women. Not knowing that his overbearing to excel in education is what makes Nyasha that weak. (183).
Another episode on colonialism is the fact that the Rhodesia was colonized, and the people too were also colonized,
It is unfortunate enough… When a country is colonized, but when people do as well! That is the end, really; that is the end.’ (p. 147)
This was evidenced when the people of Rhodesia though that people thought that the Christian ways are the only progressive ways. The people of Rhodesia left them ways and assumed the western ways. Mr. Bakers are also colonized, he prefers Chido attending multiracial school in Salisbury, Mr. Chido does this on full scholarship, the white are praised as bwana meaning gentlemen, Chido goes to Salisbury,
‘To ease his conscience . . . you know how it is; bwana to bwana: The boy needs the cash, old man…’ (p. 1s06).


The book is also an attempt to address feminism; it addresses gender bias as cultural construct. In the traditional Rhodesia society, women are considered as second sex to men. When Tambudzei suffers from stereotyped thinking, she realizes that there is gender bias the whole world. She asks her brother to help her do the land to enable her raise fees, but Nhamo says that just wanting to go to school does not help because Tambudzai is a girl and girls are not supposed to get education

After working hard in the garden, Nhamo steals Tambu corn, to ensure that she never raises fees to go to school. He also sneers says:

‘Did you ever hear of a girl being taken away to school? You are lucky you even managed to go back to Rutivi. With me, it is different. I was meant to be educated’ (p. 49).
This means that women are the weaker sex, and second, to man, this is a societal and cultural construct that juxtaposes men as more valuable than women. Tambu, a small buy displays serious chauvinistic and sexist tendencies while dealing with her sister. The community is to blame because Nhamo is unusually young but is already socialized into the gender role at a remarkably young age, probably before birth. Tambu male personality naturally makes him look down on female figures, this is done consciously and unconsciously in an extraordinarily short time. When she begs to escort his father to the airport to receive Babamukuru’s, his father calls her aside and warns her of her unbecoming behavior saying she should stay at home just like other women. Tambu’s education is seen as a pathway or preparation to a married housewife when Babamukuru’s says that she is being prepared for a decent man, probably Chido or other educated me.


Works cited

Dangarembga, Tsitsi. Nervous Conditions. Seattle: Seal Press, 1988.



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