Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangarembga
Nervous Conditions, set in colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s, centres on the coming of age of a teenage girl, Tambu, and her relationship with her British-educated cousin Nyasha. Tambu, who yearns to be free of the constraints of her rural village, especially the circumscribed lives of the women, thinks her dreams have come true when her wealthy uncle offers to sponsor her education.
But she soon learns that the education she receives at his mission school comes with a price. At the school she meets the worldly and rebellious Nyasha, who is chafing under her father’s authority. Raised in England, Nyasha is so much a stranger among her own people that she can no longer speak her native language. Tambu can only watch as her cousin, caught between two cultures, pays the full cost of alienation.
Nervous Conditions makes an attempt at portraying the complexity of the situation for women operating in a post-colonial environment; educated or not, Anglicized or traditional, rich or poor, married or single, each of the women in narrator Tambudzai’s life is oppressed in some way, and each resists in her own way, even when resisting one form of oppression means capitulating to another