Sexism And Colonialism In The Novel Nervous Conditions

In Thitsi Dangarembga’s novel, Nervous Conditions (1998), a buildings roman, the author focusses on the lives and education of Tambu and Nyasha, living in Rhodesia. I explored sexism and colonialism throughout the novel. I came to terms that the novel is written in first person perspective. Hence, this makes the novel more personal and intimate. The novel is mainly focussed on two woman, which is Tambu and Nyasha. Tambu is the main character, whereas Nyasha’s foil character of her, as her personality and life is almost the complete opposite of Tambu’s. Throughout the storyline, I came to terms with patriarchy in the sense that men behave that they’re superior over women. Patriarchal culture is believing that woman are inferior towards men, this is shown in the Bible as well. The everyday believe system says that males which is white, educated, European, upper class and Christian will always have more power than woman. This is actually tragic as there is no solid evidence in the Bible that says a certain race are superior. The woman in the novel, Tambu and Nyasha are battling against the believe system of colonialism and sexism. Evidence of this is found in: “Moreover, the women smelt of unhealthy reproductive odours, the children were inclined to relieve their upset bowels on the floor, and the men gave off strong aromas of productive labour.” Throughout the novel, we came to obvious terms of sexism in a form of violence. Violence can be characterised in different sections, such as: physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. The attitude towards the bodies of the two female characters, Tambu and Nyasha is reduced to their looks. I will discuss the two main concepts in the novel, sexism and colonialism and how it affected Tambu and Nyasha's lifes. I wil do so by refereeing to the novel, Nervous Conditions as well as the review of Charles Sugnet.

Tambu's understanding of sexism as far as the restraint of ladies showed as from when she was a youngster. After Tambu's sibling's demise, she was all of a sudden ready to get a Western education. While Nhoma is going to class, he makes his female relatives convey his luggage when he returns home. Tambu realizes that Nhoma did not need assistance by any means, however he somewhat needed to show to everybody just as himself that he has power and expert to give females a chance to get things done for him. From the primary part of the book, Tambu expressed that the females in her family's, requirements and sensibilities, was not viewed as a need by any means. The issue of sexual orientation is continually at the bleeding edge for Tambu. Before the appreciated supper she needed to convey a water bowl for her relatives to wash their hands in. The water is cleanest toward the start obviously, so the senior men start. This sort of custom exhibits once a day the manners by which the men have control over the ladies. The ladies needed to eat in the kitchen in the wake of setting up the feast for the men; they needed to eat what was left over after the men have taken what they needed. Tambu's relationship of her menstruation cycle with lack of sanitization suggests the disdain for her very own sexual orientation that has been penetrated into as long as she can remember. The non-attendance of dirt in Maiguru's living room makes her consider period 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.” This portrayal of period as naturally filthy and hostile uncovers a profound misogyny in the Shona culture.

Tambu's sexual orientation is from the start a confinement for her education. Nhamo rubs her face in the way that he is to get education at the mission school while she should remain at the family ranch with Jeremiah, calling attention to the self-evident: “Why are you jealous anyway? Did you ever hear of a girl being taken away to school?” As first person narrator, Tambu reasons that her sibling was “sincere in his bigotry. But in those days I took a rosy view of male nature,” so she thought he was trying to say destructive things to trouble her. Tambu, which is likewise the storyteller in the novel understands that, while the ladies tune in to the gathering of the man centric society, 'What was required in that kitchen was a mix of Maiguru's separation and Lucia's course.' However, the issue was that the ladies have been adapted to comprehend themselves a specific way, as 'pictures that were actually close to reflections… it was alarming currently to try and start to believe that, the very certainties which set them apart as a gender, as ladies, as a particular sort of individual, were just fantasies into extraordinary, isolating reality they confronted.'

Nyasha's character has been a formed introduction toward the Western world. She is taught in England, free from the gender limitations of her country, and along these lines, she bears an opportunity Thambu can't get. When she comes back to Rhodesia, Nyasha resembles like fish out of water. She doesn't communicate in the language, dresses in an unexpected way, and acts condescendingly. Nyasha has been raised as a free soul, with traditions and norms which are antiqued. Her friends are non-existent, as her new classmates segregate her, on the grounds that in their eyes, they came to terms with the fact that she thought she was white. At last, Nyasha's partition prompts to her nervous condition which are related with anorexia, she can't deal with the majority of the changes, something that is blamed on her 'Western childhood'. As opposed to Tambu, Nyasha uses tampons without disgrace and shows Tambu how. The disgrace of ladies carrying on unchastely is clear in Babamukuru's criticizing of Nyasha for staying out way too late talking with Andy. He shouts at her for being disgusting, and reproves Chido: “you let your sister behave like a whore without saying anything (Dangarembga 116).” He hits his daughter to show her a 'thing or two' yet she is determined and hits him back in the eye, disclosing to him that she previously told him not to hit her. This shows, that Nyasha defends herself against the cultural standards 'that ladies are inferior' and she represents females and demonstrates that she could never give a men a chance to abuse her, even if it means that she had to stand up against her father. It is evident in the given extra reading, that men always feels superior over woman, “Without suppressing an ounce of its legitimate anger at the misogyny of the African men who mistreat the female characters”.

The focal moral issue of the novel is the important topic of how black families can arrange a postcolonial instruction and 'opportunity' with Shona conventions and abuses. The distinction Tambu sees between black individuals is apparent at the earliest reference point in chapter 6. Since she inhabits the mission, she sees a lot more white individuals than any time in recent memory. Sarcasm is clear in the tone of portrayal as she thinks back in transit she and the other black individuals saw the white ministers, “We treated them like minor deities. With the self-satisfied dignity then came naturally to white people in those days, they accepted this improving disguise.” The issue of race is clear in chapter 10, when Tambu steps foot in, at the convent, only to find out that her sleeping quarters are confined in with her fellow “African' students. The nuns at Sarched Heart are not invulnerable to this sort of isolation.

Likewise as to what happened to Tambu, there were no black psychiatrist for Nyasha to see in Salisburg concerning her eating issue. The very first white psychiatrist she went to see, suggested that because of the fact that she is black, which was obvious, there is no way that it can be true of what they said was wrong with her. He recommended that she is acting all of the symptoms out, and that she should be disciplined as this was according the white psychiatrist false and impossible. The understanding that white and black people can’t be treated and diagnosed with the same illnesses and disorders was pure proof of division within the white and black race. Nyasha is a significant character in the novel, as she is a brilliant illustration of the impacts of colonialism on the African people. She impacts Tambu's very own rebellious nature, and that makes it clear that she's part of the sad patriarchal system. Nyasha's enduring is to be a case of the difficulties that imperialism can cause to a nation. Nyasha is a role model for Tambu as she attempts to champion herself growing up. Nyasha's rebellious character is a model demonstrating that ladies don't need to acknowledge their situation in a male controlled society. Nyasha opens Tambu's eyes to the shameful acts of the Shona society, which comprise not exclusively female’s inadequacy, yet additionally to male controlled society that is the outside power that sustains the persecution of females.

In conclusion of the above incidents, it is clear that Tambu and Nyasha were oppressed as it happens to most of the female gender. These two characters, Tambu and Nyasha experienced nervous conditions that were brought about by gender discrimination, social class and cultural norms, which relegate these women to inferior positions. Although Tambu never became as extreme as Nyasha in opposing Babamukuru and the patriarchy he represents, she eventually does take a stand at her parent’s wedding by refusing to attend and participate regardless of the consequences: “Babamukuru talked to me calmly and told me how disappointed he was that I had grown rebellious”. This incident reflects her changing ideals and her willingness to fight for what she stands for. “To me that punishment was the price of my newly acquired identity”. Tambu’s newly found identity is really nothing more than a softened replica of the ideals of Nyasha. Nyasha therefore serves a catalyst for Tambu’s personal development. Being oppressed by men used to be the norm, woman weren’t given much status or recognition, other than being child bearers. Now women are empowered and are able to be independent and not rely on a man. 

16 December 2021
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