Bite-size Review: Nervous Conditions | Tsitsi Dangarembga

AFRIKULT.’S OVERALL RATING: 

Nervous Conditions | Tsitsi Dangarembga

In the frenzy of cultural and social transformations driven primarily by colonialism, the central characters of Nervous Conditions seek to find or exercise a displaced or lost identity. Yet the path towards self-discovery and acceptance leads to self- destruction. Dangaremba’s work unpicks the complex layers underpinning colonized subjectivity and identity reconstruction. The book offers a critique of colonial patriarchy seen through the lenses of its female characters, who stand as fragments of embattled consciousness. Like a jury to imperial delinquency, it calls the reader to witness the plight of women of different generations immured in the turmoil of double oppression. In this intimate world of the unfortunate black woman lies the emerging forces of patriarchal dominance and primordial male chauvinism. Unlike other post-colonial feminist literature, Nervous Conditions, turns away from viewing gender relations in purely antagonistic terms and ascribes a much progressive meaning to feminism that views the support and involvement of men to be crucial to the struggle. It reconfigures a new moral aesthetic, wherein the independence and equality of black women is intricately bound with the total liberation of black people. In fact, it is rather inaccurate to paint the novel as a feminist literature, but rather it belongs to the annals of the black experience. In Nervous Conditions, Dangarembga reveals that the construction of a healthy society highly depends on the unity of both sexes in fighting for total equality (gender, race and class).

 

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