Refusing to Consent: Psychological Resilience as Resistance in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s “Nervous Conditions”
University of KwaZulu-Natal
“The status of ‘native’ is a nervous condition introduced and maintained by the settler among colonised people with their consent” (Satre, 1961, in Fanon 1965). Dangarembga 1988) appropriates and explores this argument in her novel “Nervous Conditions”. Through Tambu and Nyasha, the novel’s protagonists, Dangarembga explores the way in which young black woman must negotiate the anxiety caused simultaneously by colonial education, and their location within a double (African and colonial) patriarchal structure (Nair, 1995). For Nyasha, this “loss” is internalised, resulting in a contorted psychological condition (Dangarembga, 1988) which later regresses into severe psychological distress. Tambu, however, manages to remain resilient despite what appear to be overwhelming odds. It is argued that Tambu’s resilience can be explained and demonstrated with reference to the Traditional African Worldview, particularly through the principles of dialogism and her African conception of self (Mkhize, 2004), and diunital logic (Dixon, 1970). Issues such as self-definition, education, language, culture, tradition, community, hybridity, and innovation are invoked in an attempt to describe Tambu’s psychological resilience.
“The status of ‘native’ is a nervous condition introduced and maintained by the settler among colonised people with their consent” (Sartre, 1961, in Fanon, 1965). The primary objective of this paper is to investigate this notion of “consent” in the colonial context. In particular, the aim is to consider the way in which individuals might negotiate and overcome the issues and conflicts that arise when they “cross cultures”, and how they might remain psychologically resilient despite these challenging circumstances. In order to examine the psychological issues present in colonial...