Nyasha and Babamukuru's Effect on Tambudzai in 'Nervous Conditions'

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1148 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Apr 21, 2022

Words: 1148|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Apr 21, 2022

In this essay, I intend to discuss Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel “Nervous conditions”. I will be discussing how Babamakuru and Nyasha represent Tambudzai’s aspirations. Babamakuru represents Tambudzai’s aspirations to become educated and improve her life. Nyasha represents Tambudzai’s aspirations to escape her traditional family. The extract displays that Tambudzai’s ambition to be educated and improve her life is inspired by Babamakuru. The extract also shows how Tambudzai looks up to Nyasha for guidance and leading in life.

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Tambudzai desires to be educated as she wants to improve her life. She is extremely determined to become educated and does not let her circumstances stop her from her desire to be educated. Her family’s negative remarks do not faze her. Tambudzai’s father mocks her regarding her desire to be educated. “Can you cook books and feed them to your husband?”. Her father thinks that learning how to do domestic work is more important than getting an education. But this does not stop her and she transforms herself into an entrepreneur by growing and selling her own corn for school fees. “I will earn the fees, “I reassured him, laying out my plan for him as I laid it out in my mind”. Tambudzai’s effort to earn her school fees shows how smart and independent she is and how she truly believes education is the only way to improve her life. She is passionate about achieving her goal to be educated.

Tambudzai’s brother Nhamo, also mocks her for trying to educate her herself. “What did you expect? Nhamo said. “Did you really think you could send yourself to school?”. He also sabotages Tambudzai’s plan of selling corn by stealing her corn she grew. Tambudzai’s brother’s mind-set shows how patriarchy is present in her family and how women are looked down upon in her family. Her family only considers her getting an education as a means to help the family financially and not as an opportunity for Tambudzai to live a better life. “Er-this girl-heyo, Tambudzai-must be given the opportunity to do what she can for the family before she goes into her husband’s home”. Tambudzai does not have the right to decide how she wants to live her life, as her family has already planned her life. This enforces the idea of women being considered inferior in her family and being exploited. Her family limits her personal by inflicting their desires onto her.

Bubamakuru represents Tambudzai’s aspirations to become educated and improve her life. “Babamakuru was my touchstone who showed me that this was true”. Tambudzai believes that she can become educated and improve her life because Bubamakuru has succeeded in accomplishing that. He is educated, has a nice house, a car, and is the headmaster at the mission school. She also admires him because he has done a lot for their family but she is unable to understand that the deeds he does. He does it out of duty and not love. As he is the head of the family clan he has to make sure his family is taken care of and that everything in the family runs smoothly. Tambudzai even considers Babamukuru to be like God when she first goes to live with him. “Babamukuru was God, therefore I had arrived in Heaven”. This indicates the authority and power Babamukuru had in the household. However this amount of power results in the destruction of the household. Babamukuru uses his power to dictate his wife and daughter’s behaviour.Maiguru has to go to work and do domestic work when she comes home. She also does not have control over her salary and the children. Babamukuru also expects his daughter Nyasha to behave in a certain manner because her behaviour is a reflection of him as a person. Babamukuru subjects his wife and daughter to public and private patriarchy.

Nyasha represents Tambudzai’s aspirations to escape her traditional family and patriarchy. Nyasha is Tambudzai’s cousin who is the same age and who she is close to. Tambudzai looks up to Nyasha as she is wiser than her and she kind of wants to be like her. Nyasha taught Tambudzai to look at the world differently and to see things for what they are. “Nyasha gave me the impression of moving, always moving, striving towards some state that she had seen and accepted a long time ago”. Tambudzai was not able to see Babamukuru’s true nature until she saw how Babamukuru treated Nyasha. She learns how to stand up to patriarchy from Nyasha. For example, Tambudzai refuses to go to her parent’s wedding because she feels that the wedding is a joke. She is angry at Babamukuru for insisting that her parents have to get married. “I'm sorry, Babamukuru, but I do not want to go to the wedding”. Nyasha helped Tambudzai to stand up for herself and not conform to the expectations of society. However, Nyasha’s stand against social norms and patriarchy fails as she ends up hurting herself in the end. Nyasha is torn between western and African traditions as she has been subjected to both. She develops anorexia and has a mental break down. Nyasha made Tambudzai realise that there are other struggles in life besides her desire to free her family from poverty. “That there were other directions to be taken, other struggles to engage in besides the consuming desire to emancipate myself and my family”. Nyasha broadens Tambudzai’s perspective on life.

Tambudzai’ aspiration to be educated has been fulfilled, so she thought that she would encounter no other problems in her life. “Consciously I thought my direction was clear: I was being educated”. However, she realises that achieving your goals does not mean that you will be content in life. “I should have been content with preparing myself for the life I have described”. Tambudzai does not realise that she will not be content as she will be living the life her family wants her to live. She thought she could escape her old life by educating herself. “Going to the convent was a chance to lighten those burdens by entering a world where the burdens were light”. Tambudzai thinks that going away to the convent will solve all her problems. She does not understand that by going to the convent she is alienating herself from her African values and morals. By going to the convent she is going to adapt western morals and values. Which will result in her struggling like Nyasha between the two traditions. Tambudzai going to the convent will not lighten her burdens but increase her burdens.

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In conclusion, Babamukuru and Nyasha are the catalysts for change in Tambudzai’s life. Babamukuru sparks Tambudzai’s ambition to become educated and improve her life. He also displays the most patriarchy in the novel. Nyasha causes Tambudzai to stand up against patriarchy and the norms of society. She changes Tambudzai’s perspective of the world and their family. Tambudzai develops as a person due to Babamukuru and Nyasha’s influence on her.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Nyasha and Babamukuru’s Effect on Tambudzai In ‘Nervous Conditions’. (2022, April 21). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
“Nyasha and Babamukuru’s Effect on Tambudzai In ‘Nervous Conditions’.” GradesFixer, 21 Apr. 2022,
Nyasha and Babamukuru’s Effect on Tambudzai In ‘Nervous Conditions’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Feb. 2024].
Nyasha and Babamukuru’s Effect on Tambudzai In ‘Nervous Conditions’ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 21 [cited 2024 Feb 21]. Available from:
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