Nyasha Identity and Family Tension

A “nervous condition” is when there is a tension between two things. In Tsitsi Dangarembga’s book, Nervous Conditions, her characters all have their own struggle that they face as the book progress on topics about post-colonization and gender roles, education, traditions, modern living, etc. Nyasha suffers lot with her identity throughout the book as she returns to Zimbabwe after five years in England. Her struggle between two cultures is highly reflect on her family relationship, especially her father. “They’re stuck with hybrids for children. And they don’t like it at all. It offends them (79).” Her father supports female education, which is more of a western view, but still have his traditional Shona view and doesn’t want Nyasha talking to men, staying out late at night, and being an “indecent, loose” woman. Nyasha finds it difficult to fit in at home and at school. “Besides, I am convinced that they have other reasons for disapproving of me. They do not like my language, my English, because it is authentic and my Shona, because it is not! I do not feel that I am inferior to men. And all because I beat the boys at math (200)!” Nyasha finds her hybridity to be difficult to adjust to please people like her father. She seems to have some respect for her father but doesn’t know how to act appropriately in front of him or to be herself. Someone always disapproves everything she does and she has no control over her behavior, which is why Nyasha manifest her nervous condition through her eating disorder because she can control her body.


The image I chose relates back to the book because the women in the book were oppressed in some ways due to tradition. Nyasha was oppressed by her father because he wants to uphold the idea of a traditional Shona woman. Babamukuru was oppressed by the multiple expectations his family and community held about him; but because he is a man it is wrong to disagree or disrespect his authority, which is why his wife tries to support him with everything he decided. But when Nyasha tries to express her oppression she is shut out and not supported by her family in the same way as her mother supports Babamukuru. Babamukuru asserts his authority over Nyasha by stating he is her father and demands respects even though Nyasha tries to explain her struggle.

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