Throughout the novel “Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga, education is presented as a powerful tool that has a significant impact on transforming the lives of women. Despite this, education was less valued and talked off due to gender discrimination against women. The book has used education to illustrate the differences in the opportunities offered on both the educated and the uneducated women. Uneducated African women had to face the harsh reality assigned to them by society on household chores to take care of the men and children. This is evident from the words of Tambu’s mother Ma’shingayi that being a woman and in poverty, the only way one can help herself is by learning to carry her burden. This is an illustration of how education can limit women’s life to the boundaries of what they are confined to by society (Dangarembga, 1988).
The book has presented education as a tool for women to achieve economic stability and live a comfortable lifestyle. For instance, the lifestyle of Maiguru is very different and with a decent house with her husband and their two children. This is a big contrast when compared to the lifestyle and economic capability of Tambus mother lives in poverty largely contributed by her lack of education. Lack of education has limited her life to poverty denying her a comfortable life.
The book presents education as the success path both financially and independently. However, being a woman limits one chance to enjoy the opportunities that are enjoyed by men. For instance, Maiguru has a similar qualification like her husband but her education has not helped due to her choice of sacrifices for her family. She discusses with Tambu that no one really talks about her qualifications simply because she is a woman. In addition, the fact she is educated divides her further from other women who consider her differently.
Lack of education contributes to ignorance among women. After the death of Tambus brother, her mother considers that he has been killed by Maiguru. She even declines to allow her daughter go school, as she is afraid that it could lead to her death. Lack of education has significantly contributed to her ignorance on the causes that lead to the death of her son are natural. In addition, she considers the difference between Nyasha and her father Babamukuru resulting of “Englishness” and warns her daughter. She demonstrates ignorance that results from her lack of education and exposure to understand the influence of culture in child-father relations could be different (Dangarembga & Daniel, 1988).
Education can be attributed to the communication failure between various women in the book. Tambu is limited by her lack of English knowledge to communicate with her cousins after they return from England. However, the situation changes when she attends a mission school after which they closely bond when her cousin after receiving education. In addition, Maiguru and Tambu’s mother disagree on the case of Lucia and the argument escalates to Tambu’s mother accusing Maiguru of being her witch and killing her son.
Education successfully transforms a woman’s life from its limited state to the one which she can explore her ideas and defend her own decisions. For instance Tambu refuses to attend her parents Christion wedding to defend her own opinion. Though she is thoroughly punished for it, she appreciates the power of following her interests and defending her values.
Dangarembga, T., & Daniel, S. (1988). Nervous conditions. London: Women’s Press.