“I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologizing for my callousness”, says Tsitsi Dangarembga. This is quote from the book Nervous Condition and the quote lays the context of the book and the event which occurred in 1968. In the quote, the author introduces her brother Nhamo who she perceives to be arrogant and proud to walk to school from home. Through the description, the author is able to introduce the theme of education. Moreover, the author introduces education as an avenue to achieving financial success as she remembers how Babamukuru achieved his financial success after pursuing his higher education. The book’s genre is categorized to be bildungsroman even though various types of genres seem to be classified by the author in her narrative including gender inequality. The book tries to tackle the various issues that people face in their day to day lives, but no matter the situation, one has to keep on striving for better outcomes.
The author is able to introduce the theme of gender inequality when Tambu is perceived to be having the eager to attend school and is unable to understand why her parents were mostly concerned about financing her brother’s education. Moreover, Nhamo tells his sister that she won’t be able to pursue her education since she is a girl. The author is also introduces the theme of racial inequality when she informs her reader that seven was the age at which the colonial government had declared that African children were not able to understand numbers and letters. We also able to learn that author was able to receive a different kind of education from that of her brother with her education learning about the cultural beliefs and the mythology of their family. From the narrative, it is also evident that education is tool of defeating the colonial system, and Tambu’s uncle is determined to educate his family members. It is also evident that the western culture affects ones personality as evident from her two cousins, Chido and Nyasha. Both of them have literally forgotten about their culture thus creating a barrier between her and her cousins.
From the narrative, some of the community customs and rituals undermined the women. For instance, in the welcome dinner, the elders were to eat first and the women were to remain and eat in the kitchen after preparing food and even serving the men. As the narrative continues, Nhamo doesn’t stop quashing the dreams of her sister, to pursue education just like him. He says, “Why are you jealous anyway? Have you ever heard of a girl being taken to school?” despite all this, she still remains focused and idealistic. Therefore, the death of Nhamo brings a lot of joy to Tambu as his death meant that she was now able to attend school in the place of her dead brother. This excites her as she believes she will be able to leave her poverty stricken life and join a mission school. However, due to the daily experiences in the mission school, Tambu felt some empathy for her late brother. She had to collect herself together to be able to face the daily challenges that she was deemed to go through in the mission school.
The book, Nervous Condition by Dangarembga is such an interesting piece that every ardent reader should strive to read. The way the author introduces and connects different themes is so fascinating. Moreover, the actions and the reactions of each character in the text are quite believable. The author also accurately brings out the struggle that most females go through in an African set up. Besides, it is worth noting that the book is an inspiring piece and at the same time a very entertaining book. Therefore, I would always recommend the book to any reader.