Voted in the Top Ten Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, Nervous Conditions (GB 1988/US 1989) by Tsitsi Dangarembga is a partially autobiographical coming-of-age story that follows the journey of a Shona girl named Tambu through postcolonial Rhodesia (modernly the territory now known as Zimbabwe) and beyond. The story focuses on African womanhood, class and racial tensions, and family dynamics, all interwoven with the exploration of women’s rights. Tambu battles her elders as well as their expectations as she pursues education at a boarding school. She moves through different relatives’ homes and different countries’ institutions, displacing herself in an effort to create an identity. Nervous Conditions is about what she loses, gains, and learns along the way.
“The condition of a native is a nervous condition…” -Jean Paul Sartre
Jasmine Edwards ’19