Nervous Conditions is a partially autobiographical novel by Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga that takes place in Rhodesia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It focuses on the themes of race, class, and gender through the eyes of Tambu, the...
Tsitsi Dangarembga was born in 1959 in the town of Mutoko, Zimbabwe (which was Rhodesia at the time). She moved to England as a young girl and received her elementary education there. She returned to Zimbabwe at the age of six and finished her education in a missionary school in Mutare, where she also re-learned her native language, Shona. In 1977, she returned to England to study medicine at Cambridge University.
In 1980, Dangarembga returned to Rhodesia to study psychology at the University of Harare. Shortly thereafter, the country gained independence from the United Kingdom and became "Zimbabwe" under black-majority rule. While Dangarembga was a student, she worked as a copywriter for a marketing agency and also discovered her love of theater. She wrote several plays that were put into production at the university. In 1983, her play The Lost of the Soil got the attention of Robert McLaren, and Dangarembga joined his theater group, Zambuko. She also wrote the 1987 play She Does Not Weep. Her first short story, The Letter, was published in Sweden in 1985.
Nervous Conditions her first novel, was published in England in 1988, when Dangarembga was only twenty-five years old. It was the first novel to be published in English by a black Zimbabwean woman and won the African Section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989. The sequel, The Book of Not, was published in 2006.
Dangarembga also studied film direction at the Deutsche Film und Fernseh Akademie in Berlin, where she was involved in the production of various narrative and documentary films. Her directorial debut, Everyone's Child, was the first feature film to be directed by a black Zimbabwean woman. In 1993, Dangarembga wrote the story for the highest-grossing film in the history of Zimbabwe, Neria. She founded the International Images Film Festival for Women in Zimbabwe. In 2006, The Independent named Dangarembga one of the fifty greatest artists shaping the African Continent. The final chapter of the Nervous Conditions trilogy, entitled Chronicle of an Indomitable Daughter, will be published in 2013. Tsitsi Dangarembga currently lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.