Themes Of Silence And Obedience In Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions

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Patriarchal oppression is one of the major themes in Dangarembga’s Nervous conditions. According to Dambe 2014, patriarchy refers to a system of practices and structures in which men have more power than women and are able to use their power to dominate and oppress women. It is this patriarchal distribution of power that put women in all kinds of dilemmas in the novel. One of weapon men use to oppress women is “silence and obedience’. Silence and obedience are considered as important values in Shona culture and colonial Rhodesia. This essay will therefore, explore the kinds of dilemmas nyasha, Tambu, Lucia, Mainini and Maiguru go through in the hands of patriarchal system and how they comes to terms with it.

Being raised in a male dominated society where educating male children is perceived more significant than educating female children, Tambu watches her dream of going to school being crunched because of her gender. According to colonial Shona tradition, it is of no use to educate female children as they are expected to fulfil kitchen duties in their husband’s homes. When Tambu questions her father as to why she cannot go to school, he silences her and says “can you cook books and feed them to your husband? Stay at home with your mother. Learn to cook and clean. Grow vegetables (Dangarembga, 1988:15). However, Tambu’s brother Nhamo is sent back to school and even when there is no school fees for him, Tambu’s mother volunteers to sell food at the local bus station in order

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