Minh Nguyen

“The writer is the conscience of his or her people.”
For this fictional semi-biography, 'Nervous Conditions', it is true that the writer, Tsitsi Dangarembga, is the conscience of her people. She tries to describe the experience of living under a patriarchal society and breaking away from it through the life of the characters. Moreover, as an African, she also shows the effects of colonialism on her country, Rhodesia and the fight against colonialism. The burdens of the women in a patriarchal society are revealed through their relationships with the men. For example, Babamukuru, who is well-educated and powerful, is the leader of the whole family. Even though that he has been to England and lived there, his perspectives towards the women in Africa do not change much. He is still considered to be a patriarchal leader. He believed that the women should be educated but the power of decisionmaking still belong to him: ”I will not discuss it. But I have one thing I want to tell you... I wanted you to know that these are the things that I have been thinking about, but we will discuss the details some other time since now it is very late”. His wife, Maiguru, is a good example of a highly educated woman but still lives under the powers of the men. She tried to escape from the society once, when she was trying to leave the homestead for five days and refused to be in the position of a woman in such society but in the end, she returned and realised that she cannot escape from the society. His daughter, Nyasha, who is also highly educated, cannot escape from her father's control. This is shown by the part where Babamukuru punished her for hanging out with the boys from her school at the evening: “How can you go about disgracing me? Me! Like that! No, you cannot do it. I am respected at this mission. I cannot have a daughter who behaves like a whore.” The old African society does not allow the women to have the freedom and it purges all attempts of fixing the inequality. The people are educated in such a way when they were young and it simply takes away the thoughts of revolution in their minds. Even Babamukuru, he has seen and experienced a different world but he still keeps the old traditions, perhaps because he was also educated in such way when he was young. In fact, he seems to be more or less the same type of person as a leader of the traditional patriarchal society but more educated and wants women to have education. Moreover, when he was thinking about a 'solution' to the problem between Ma'Shingayi and Jeremiah, he said that: “...they are a result of an evil spirit that someone sent among us...”. This is a very traditional thought of the traditional society, which indicates that he is not fully Westernised and he still has many thoughts that belong to the traditional African society. In the black society, Babamukuru seems to be the most powerful man because of his status and power. However, compared to the white people, he is just a black person who is under the burdens of colonialism. The black people, including Babamukuru, are considered as inferior to the white people and so he is not treated like the black people treat him. For the black women, they even have to suffer more because of the effects of both of the patriarchal society and colonialism. They are under two layers of hierarchy, the black men and the white people. This makes it even more difficult for them to escape and achieve emancipation. Furthermore, finding self-confidence is also a problem. Some people, for

she is given a chance to stay and study at the Sacred Heart school. At first. she realises that her burdens as a black woman will stay with her forever and they cannot be removed. again. But then her fate remains the same as she realises that the school itself also treats her like a normal black woman. However. are educated and have seen the more advanced society. Tambudzai and Maiguru. no worse. still under the burdens as a woman under the patriarchal society. In the end. They realises that their lifestyle is considered as 'backward' compared to the Western society and this leads to a lack of self-confidence to advance because it is very difficult to improve if there is a big gap between the two lifestyles. under the white society. The story in the book is just a detailed example of the African society when it was under colonialism.Minh Nguyen instance. Towards the end of the story. no better. it is impossible for a black woman to free herself because of her inferiority. . To conclude. Tsitsi Dangarembga's novel 'Nervous Conditions' reveal that under the patriarchal society. which is a school usually for white children. she lives in the homestead under the rules of her father which she cannot resist to. The novel itself speaks to demand a change in Africa. Then she has a chance to live with Babamukuru and go to school like the white children. she is. they are discouraged and do not want to move on. The story is summed up under the life of Tambu. She also shows that the black men have burdens as well. As a result.

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