The Indirect Effects of Colonization in Tsitsi Dangarembga's"Nervous Conditions"

Topics: Western culture, Colonialism, Tsitsi Dangarembga Pages: 5 (1668 words) Published: February 16, 2011
Do you see what they’ve done? They’ve taken us away. Lucia. Taksure. All of us. They’ve deprived you of you, him of him, ourselves of each other. We’re groveling. Lucia for a job, Jeremiah for money. Daddy grovels to them. We grovel to him.” (Dangarembga, Chapter 10) This statement made by Nyasha illustrates the indirect way in which the colonizers take control of the colonized, in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions. Therefore, Babamukuru’s family can be seen as a microcosmic unit of the colonized society as a whole. It is through his family we are able to see the impact of colonization on the colonized people. This is essentially exhibited by Babamukuru, who is the mimic man. “The mimic man Represents a by product of colonial civilization, not an entity separate from the colonial sphere,” (Yang, 1999). Thereby, Babamukuru is a product of Western education and Western means of success. Moreover, it is also illustrated through Nyasha’s eating disorder. Nyasha represents the very few who reject the system and ultimately pays the price. Lastly, through Tambu, we are able to see the majority of the people who are brainwashed by the system and slowly begin to forget their roots.

They thought he was a good boy, cultivatable, in the way that land is, to yield harvests that sustain the cultivator (Dangarembga, Chapter 2) This statement made by Tambu, demonstrates how Babamukuru ultimately benefits the cultivators, in this case the colonizers. Babamukuru although Shona in ethnicity is essentially a product of Western influences. Therefore, it is evident his family respects him not because he is high in power in the Shona culture, but because he has the voice and power of the white man, which he uses to gain this respect. “Babamukuru cannot exist without the power of his Western education. Babamukuru seems genuinely vested in the social and financial improvement of his family, notions which serve to infuse pride into the indigenous people. However, he must also use his identity of a Western educated scholar as the means for improvement. In fact, the mimic man is the only means of improvement in Tambudzai's family. Therefore, Babamukuru reinforces the dominance of colonial institutions” (Yang, 1999). Another instance in which Babamukuru reinforces the dominance of the colonial institutions, is when he demands that Tambu’s parents have a Christian wedding, to prevent them from living in sin anymore. By doing this Babamukuru is reinforcing the Christian beliefs of the Western world and disregarding his shona ethnicity. This is also an example of how “he uses Western ideas of success to garner respect and worship from Shona people” (Yang, 1999). When Babamukuru demands to have a wedding none of the family members question his authority. This can be seen as a metaphor, for how the colonized cannot question the authorities of the colonizers. “Babamukuru is a powerful African, but he operates within a missionary and colonial system that circumscribes and apportions the power he holds, so others' sense of his worth is often directly connected to his willingness to stay within the boundaries in which he wields the power granted to him by Whites. In turn, his willingness to stay within constructed racial boundaries reinforces the higher rank of Whites in the society” (Hills, 1995). Through Babamukuru we are able to see the few who are taken under the colonizers wings, and essentially used to improve their own means rather then the natives.

“I am not one of them but I am not one of you” (Dangarembga, Chapter 10), this remark made by Nyasha illustrates how she is ultimately stuck between two worlds. Nyasha has experienced first hand what the world has to offer women leading her to refuse to conform to the patriarchal traditions of her Shona background; nor is she accepted into the Western culture that she was brought up in. “Nyasha is a hybrid woman in a hybrid land, and the competing values and expectations become within and...

References: Braman, Valerie . "The Most Nervous of Conditions: The Implications of Nyasha 's eating Disorder in Nervous Conditions." Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature: An Overview. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2010. .
Grundy, Maureen. "Missionary and Colonization in Dangarembga 's Nervous Conditions." Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature: An Overview. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2010. .
Grundy, Maureen . " "A Special Kind of White Person"." Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature: An Overview. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2010. .
Hill, Janice E.. "Purging a plate full of colonial history: The 'Nervous Conditions ' of silent girls. - Free Online Library." Free News, Magazines, Newspapers, Journals, Reference Articles and Classic Books - Free Online Library. N.p., 1 Feb. 1995. Web. 25 Nov. 2010.
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