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Post-Colonialism in Literature (Presentation Paragraph)

In the novel Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, a young girl named Tambu wants to attend school. After her brothers' death she is allowed to take his place at the mission school. At the end of the school term she is able to pass an exam which will allow her to further her education even more. This is the basic plot of the novel, but it shows only a fraction of what the story is about. Tambu's story is symbolic of many colonial nations. She is taught by the western world to desire their education and also many other values of the western world including their culture, in clothing, films, and books. By the end of the story she has completely been immersed in the western culture while denying this is so. In many post-colonial societies, the native people try to reestablish their unique identities as if the colonizers had never set foot upon their lands. As the novel indicates, this separation is actually impossible.

Post-Colonialism in Literature (Rough)

The novel Nervous Conditions by Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga tells the story of a young woman named Tambu who wants to go to school but is disallowed at first because the expenses involved and the culture clash that occurs between those who attend the schools and those who remain more adamantly connected to their traditional village life. Tambu's experiences are the central plot of the novel, dealing with the desire of the individual to improve and to surpass the limitations put upon them by the African societies while at the same time dealing with the parents' desire to have the young girl obeys the village traditions without questioning their validity or rightness. This is the crux of the story which also represents a common issue in post-colonial societies, the difficulty of trying to reestablish the identity of the native culture while still being heavily impacted by the colonial rule from which the people have just escaped.

Tambu wants to go to school and become educated. This is the only thing in her life that she cares about because she has been indoctrinated into the belief that the white school is the only place which can allow her to become happy. So impressed is she with this concept of school that she does not even feel emotion concerning her brother's death. She says, "I was not sorry when my brother died" (Dangarembga 1). In this region of the world which has been abandoned by the white colonizing powers, the cultural influence of the empirical powers is still present. Africa was colonized throughout by white nations bent on increasing their empirical power and in claiming more and more lands (McMahon 1). The native population was limited in their social abilities because of the pressures from the oppressive empire. Those who were native were marginalized and minimized in importance because of being different from the empire culture. Jean Paul Sartre was quoted as saying, "The status of 'native' is a nervous condition introduced and maintained by the settler among colonized people with their consent" (McMahon 2). The people who did not stand up to the invading countries were in essence allowing themselves to be marginalized and mistreated. Some of Tambu's earliest memories are of the consolidation of empirical power in her home. She says, "While I was still quite young, to enable administration of our area, the Government built its District Council Houses less than a mile away from the places where we washed" (Dangarembga 3). Because of the construction of the empirical government, the native population were forced to find a new way to get to where they washed, a symbol of all the things that they would have to change in order to appease the oppressors.

When Tambu is allowed to go live with her uncle Babamukuru and his daughter Nyasha, the girl is witness to a completely new social structure. Instead of subservience to her father, Nyasha is willful and even acts violently towards her father, a man who should be obeyed in all things according to their traditions and customs. Nyasha is the epitome of someone who has become completely assimilated into the oppressor culture. At the end of the novel, she has developed an eating disorder because she has tried so hard to fit into the white culture and to be the version of beauty which is accepted in that community.

At the end of the novel, Tambu passes a difficult examination and is offered a scholarship to a well-known school which will both improve her knowledge and further distance her from the culture in which she was born and raised. Author Ngugi wa Thiong'o stated that from the European perspective, there were two types of Africans: the good and the bad. "The good African was the one who co-operated with the European colonizer; particularly the African who helped the European colonizer in the occupation and subjugation of his own people and country" (wa Thiong'o 92). From this same perspective, a bad African was one who stood up to their oppressors. Anyone who resisted the foreign occupation was considered a bad example of an African and was likely to receive harsher treatment. Tambu feels an inner conflict between a need to agree with the colonizer's demands and attend school, to be successful in the western idea of that word. At the same time she feels the need to be her own person and hold on to her culture which leaves her feeling unhappy and uncertain in the world in which she lives.

Post-Colonialism in Literature (Final)

Zimbabwe was a nation that was colonized along with much of Africa by white European nations who wanted land and natural resources, including the people who were used as slave labor, traded, and shipped all over the world in order to fill the pockets of the white men in charge. They were also bent upon expanding their culture throughout the continent despite any reluctance on the part of the native population who inhabited the grounds. In each country which was colonized the native culture was influenced by the western colonizers, creating a blended culture which could never go back to the way things were before colonial influence. As in all places which have been dominated by an empirical power, the native people were in the midst of a psychological conundrum and a clash of cultures between what they had always known and what was being impressed upon them by their new governance. The novel Nervous Conditions by Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga tells the story of a young woman named Tambu who wants to go to school but is disallowed at first because the expenses involved and the culture clash that occurs between those who attend the schools and those who remain more adamantly connected to their traditional village life. Tambu's experiences are the central plot of the novel, dealing with the desire of the individual to improve and to surpass the limitations put upon them by the African societies while at the same time dealing with the parents' desire to have the young girl obeys the village traditions without questioning their validity or rightness. This is the crux of the story which also represents a common issue in post-colonial societies, the difficulty of trying to reestablish the identity of the native culture while still being heavily impacted by the colonial rule from which the people have just escaped.

In the novel, the protagonist is a young girl who has been influenced by the western world far more than she initially realizes, or is willing to admit even by the end of the story. Tambu wants to go to school and become educated in the mission school which is heavily Christian in its teaching style. This is the only thing in her life that she cares about because she has been indoctrinated into the belief that the white school is the only place which can allow her to become happy. So impressed is she with this concept of school that she does not even feel emotion concerning her brother's death. She says, "I was not sorry when my brother died" (Dangarembga 1). Indeed she adds that she does not feel guilty for lacking emotion regarding her brother's death. In going to school he has had an advantage that she wishes for herself and now that he has passed she is unable to falsely claim a pain that does not exist in her heart. She is not sad but focused on something else. In this region of the world which has been abandoned by the white colonizing powers, the cultural influence of the empirical powers is still present. Africa was colonized throughout by white nations bent on increasing their empirical power and in claiming more and more lands (McMahon 1). The native population was limited in their social abilities because of the pressures from the oppressive empire. Those who were native were marginalized and minimized in importance because of being…[continue]

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