Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions

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In Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions the main character and narrator of the novel Tambudzai, experiences many difficulties in the process of earning her education. Many would argue that that these difficulties purely developed due to her family and her brother Nhamo. However, I will argue that although her difficulties are to some extent created by her family, they are mainly due to the societal pressures and restrictions, as well as the pervasiveness of gender inequality of mid to late 1900 Rhodesia.
It is inarguable that Tambudzai experiences multiple family problems when it comes to earning her education. When Tambudzai’s family can only afford to send one child to school and they choose to send her. This situation in particular truly
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Aiwa! What will help you, my child, is to learn to carry your burdens with strength” (Dangarembga 16). The words spoken here by Tambudzai’s mother really show the reality that so many Africans faced in this time, and even more, the African women. Being black in Rhodesia is hard enough, but being a woman makes it even worse. Ma’Shingayi seems to be saying that these obstacles are too much to be able to overcome. This quote in particular really shows the differences between what society seems to think and what Tambudzai thinks. The traditional belief her mother follows, is that women should remain uneducated and in the home, but Tambudzai refuses to fall suit to this and instead does everything in her power to go against these beliefs. This quote also shows how different Tambudzai is from her mother. Ma’Shingayi is very submissive when it comes to men, yet she is against the laziness of men and is even lazy herself for not doing anything about her problems. Tambudzai however, would much rather follow in the footsteps of her aunt Maiguru. Maiguru is not the type of woman society pictures in this time period, due to the fact that she is educated as well as, she leaves her husband later in the novel. Because of women like Ma’Shingayi, gender inequality has become a sort of disease that keeps women from following their dreams, and hinders them from supporting other generations. Maiguru however, does not fall prey to this and is a very good example of what women can do. Having this role model truly shows that going against society is possible, and is a good example of what Tambudzai can do with her life with determination like hers. I think that Tambudzai’s mother’s submissiveness and her aunt’s example of empowerment are really the reasons behind why she is so determined to earn her
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