Now we are into the seventies. I am disappointed that people still believe the same things. Now she feels compelled to stand up to Babamukuru in a way she never could before.
Nervous Conditions Essay Questions
How does Englishness divide mothers from daughters in Nervous Conditions? Maiguru acknowledges the Englishness of her children when she sees Tambu's negative reaction to the way Nyasha speaks to her mother. She explains, "They're too Anglicised Ma'Shingayi's anxiety concerning the idea of Englishness is revealed when she asks her daughter, "What will I, your mother say to you when you come home a stranger full of white ways and ideas? It will be English, English all the time. But Ma'Shingayi's determination to stave off Englishness, as she sees it, is an untenable solution.
After her brother's death, Tambu is suddenly able to receive a Western education.
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While Nhamo is going to school, he makes his female relatives carry his luggage when he returns home. Tambu knows that "he did not need help, that he only wanted to demonstrate to us and himself that he had the power, the authority to make us do things for him. The issue of gender is constantly at the forefront for Tambu. Before the welcome dinner, she must carry a water dish for her relatives to wash their hands in.
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The water is cleanest at the beginning, of course, so the elder men begin. This type of ritual demonstrates on a daily basis the ways in which the men have power over the women. The women must eat in the kitchen, after preparing the meal for the men; they have to eat what is left over after the men take what they want. Tambu's association of menstruation with dirtiness alludes to the disdain for her own gender that has been drilled into her her whole life.
The absence of dirt in Maiguru's living room makes her think about menstruation as a type of dirt: "I knew that the fact of menstruation was a shamefully unclean secret that should not be allowed to contaminate immaculate male ears by indiscreet reference to this type of dirt in their presence. In contrast, Nyasha uses tampons without shame and shows Tambu how.
The stigma of women behaving unchastely is clear in Babamukuru's reprimanding of Nyasha for staying out too late talking to Andy. He yells at her for being indecent, and scolds Chido because "you let your sister behave like a whore without saying anything. The central moral issue of the novel is the question of how black families can negotiate a postcolonial education and "freedom" with Shona traditions and oppressions.
Nyasha is disliked by her classmates because "she thinks she is white. The difference Tambu perceives between black and white people is evident in the very beginning of Chapter 6. Now that she lives at the mission, she sees many more white people than ever before.
Sarcasm is evident in the tone of the narration as she looks back on the way she and the other black people viewed the white missionaries: "We treated them like minor deities. With the self-satisfied dignity that came naturally to white people in those days, they accepted this improving disguise. The problem of race is clear in Chapter 10 when Tambu arrives at the convent to find that her sleeping quarters are cramped in with "the African" students.
The nuns at Sacred Heart are not immune to this type of segregation. Likewise, there are no black psychiatrists for Nyasha to see in Salisbury concerning her eating disorder. The first white psychiatrist they bring her to suggests that because she is black, she cannot possibly suffer from what they describe.
He suggests that she is merely acting out, and that she needs to be disciplined. This understanding that whites and blacks suffer from different mental ailments is evidence of a racial divide in the culture. Tambu describes her uncle's gesture to pay for Nhamo's education as "oceanic," since it would "lift our branch of the family out of the squalor in which we were living. The theme of education and its importance to the people of Tambu's village who live in poverty is evident from the beginning.
Jeremiah, Tambu's father, makes a ridiculous show about how indebted they are to Babamukuru upon his return. Babamukuru suggests education as a solution to the family's financial woes, and insists that Nhamo go to live with him at the mission school. The other women see Maiguru as different not just because she is wealthy, but because she is educated. During her tirade, Ma'Shingayi accuses, "She did tell us, didn't she, what she thinks, and did anyone say anything!
Why not? Because Maiguru is educated. That's why you all kept quiet. After his education at the mission, Nhamo begins to be embarrassed by the poverty of his immediate family.
The poverty that is so closely tied to race is evident in this chapter. He initially did not reveal the purpose of this bed in his affair with darkness. But one day, as the afternoon was drawing to a close, I walked into the room and found my friend photographing the bed, as the sun coming from a small window cast a beam of light in the shape of slanted square.
He told me that he was taking the photograph to aid his analysis of the anatomy of darkness. He and C Boy had begun composing a treatise vaguely titled of darkness. It was customary for him to stay locked in his room, drinking and reheating coffee, reading and scribbling notes. Only on Wednesdays would he emerge, with eyes that were taken over by vast uncertainty or fatigue, as the case may be, to visit the gym where he trained in the sport of boxing.
He attended his classes, studied in his room and all the libraries nearby in Zaria, procured books with the allowance that came monthly from his older sister, but the moment it was time for an examination, melancholia would take possession of him. He would become compulsively irritated and take to violence at the slightest provocation. By this time I was beginning to be affected by the uncertainty surrounding his mind.
It defied all logic that he had so many books and breathless insights—he even lent books to professors and some of us his younger friends—but chronically got bad grades.
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However, I could not help reading it over and over; it had a character that deeply struck me, a character that frighteningly resembled something from my childhood. When I was a child my father was obsessed with talking about the question of his growing up fatherless. Any slight provocation was enough for him to launch into a lecture on how privileged we were as children with a father in the home.
He possessed a single-mindedness and deep authority over the family during the meetings whenever he spoke about these questions. I was a child then but I could see and feel these things. My father raised these questions as if he himself was not a member of the family, but a powerful envoy on a mission to address it.
Even as an adult now, whenever I come across the word question I am reminded of my own family. Incidentally, I was not offended by the essay itself, because I already knew that white people spoke about black people in such a manner at the time of its publication. But rather, it began to feel as if I was being summoned; I began to wonder if it was necessary for me to initiate another Discourse on the Negro Question in this century. And I immediately wanted nothing then but to start my own assessment of this Question.
And this is what preoccupied my mind for many months at the university in Zaria, which my friend Zachary had seen and hoped to explain to me. However, rather than give his intended exposition on the essay as he and I walked through the campus, Zachary started on his characteristic analysis of layers of darkness.
He went on and on talking about discoveries in his own study of layers of darkness. His scientific mathematical insights into darkness were not only beyond my comprehension then and now but also were clearly symptomatic of the utter blackness in which he was desperately drowning. If my friend were a Westerner or a resident in the West, perhaps a young European or American, he might have been hailed as an emerging philosopher of his generation.
Essay on Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
But this was not possible for him as a black man in a black world, a man born in a place notoriously disdainful of his kind of imagination and inquisition, a place with no regard for true human curiosity. His philosophical talent and inclination were too sharp, too earnest, and were agonisingly unrecognised. It was this long-felt obliviousness of the entire world to his imagination, which, I strongly believe, became the evil fire that caused the rapid deterioration of my friend.
His is a unique case in all the destructions I have so far witnessed. Zachary himself had foreseen his own tragedy when he argued that his scientific study of darkness was to pierce the geometry of known things to reach the very soul of existence, where, he further observed, we could find the realm of true but unanchored meanings.
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