Dangarembga’s fictional thesis statement in Nervous Conditions

Now that the Fall semester is about to begin, I am rereading Nervous Conditions in preparation for my Literature and Compostion class. I can’t help but notice that the author gives us a clear map, which carries the purpose of the novel, in the first paragraph. See the following sentence:

“… My story is not after all about death, but about my escape and Lucia’s; about my mother’s and Maiguru’s entrapment, and about Nyasha’s rebellion….” (1).

Dangarembga makes the focus of the novel on women immediately noticeable, but what strikes me as I read the novel is the smell of familiarity. I picture the novel happening somewhere in Chimanimani, but I can’t quite see the picture of the terrain (still reading), which makes me set the story in Mutambara, the land of the Sigauke people. I don’t know where in the Eastern Higlands Dangarembga hails from, and that does not matter; what I like is my placement of the novel in a familiar location so as to position the story in some familiar experience. Elsewhere I have mentioned the coincedental similarity of my last name Sigauke and that of the novel’s family; well, it gets more interesting:I have a niece named Lucia. Again, this is not very important in helping me discuss the novel, but such details help position the story in that familiar terrain of experience that I have begun (here) to problematize.


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