Psychology Of Colonialism In Nervous Condition By Tsitsi Dangarembga

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The Zimbabwean novelist and film-maker Tsitsi Dangarembga wrote her first novel Nervous Conditions in 1988 based on the title she takes from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Preface to Frantz Fanon’s The wretched of the Earth, published in 1963, where Sartre comments that ‘The Condition of native is a nervous condition’(Thieme, 70). Dangarembga sets her novel in the realistic backdrop of 1960’s neocolonial Rhodesia led by white minority UDI (or the Unilateral Declaration of Independent) government. The novel chronicles the “psychology of colonialism” (Thieme, 70) through the representation of child characters passing through various stages of transformation from infancy and childhood towards adolescent and adulthood.
Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions is often criticized on the grounds that the author avoid direct references of colonialism and its impact to the state of affairs in 1960’s Rhodesia. However, she mediates historical reality impeccably through the portrayal of her child characters who were exposed to constant encounter with indigenous Shona culture in Rhodesia and the colonial white culture of England. In this context with particular reference to Tambu, I would like to argue how far
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Tambu is young, yet capable of understanding the gulf difference between her uncle’s family and her own in terms of better living condition. She becomes more conscious to the social and class difference when her brother admitted to the mission school in the town and exposed to such luxuries while he stays in his uncle’s palatial house. It seems that the impact of colonial education is so alluring that even before admitting in the missionary school, Nhamo boastfully declares, “[…Nhamo]I must be taken away to a good school and be given a good chance in life[…]I shall no longer be Jeremiah’s son.” (Dangarembga,

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