The nineteenth episode of Professor Ato Quayson’s vlog Critic.Reading.Writing is up!
In this episode, the professor discusses the confluence of colonialism, education, and patriarchy in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions (1988).
Quayson delves into Dangarembga’s bildungsroman and her representation of girlhood from two perspectives during the colonial period in former Rhodesia. While Tambudzai regards her colonial education as an escape from the patriarchal restrictions of domestic life, Nyasha sees it as a mental prison and reinforcement of the oppressive patriarchal system.
Nyasha chafes under the benevolent paternalism of both the colonial education system and her own father, the ideal colonial subject. Quayson elaborates,
Nyasha’s breakdown was the product of her recognition of the vacuity of the education that they were being given and her strong critique and resistance toward it. Crucial to understanding Nyasha’s rebelliousness, however, is the fraught relationship she has with her father, Babamukuru. Her father keeps insisting throughout that he wants his daughter to be a “good girl.” But being a “good girl” is really a cipher for being marriage worthy and by implication, a compliant subject.
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