Nervous Conditions

by

Tsitsi Dangarembga

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Nervous Conditions can help.

Nervous Conditions Characters

Tambu

Tambu is the teenage protagonist of the novel. She's born and raised on a homestead in Rhodesia where her family lives in poverty. Because her uncle Babamukuru is wealthy and educated, he insists that Tambu… read analysis of Tambu

Babamukuru

Babamukuru is Tambu's uncle. He and his wife, Maiguru, received scholarships to study in South Africa in the 1950s, and in 1960, they went to England to pursue master's degrees with their children… read analysis of Babamukuru

Nyasha

Nyasha is Tambu's cousin, who is about her same age. When the two are little, they are great friends, but their relationship is interrupted when Nyasha goes with Babamukuru and Maiguru to Englandread analysis of Nyasha

Mainini

Mainini is Tambu's mother. She's been married to Jeremiah for nineteen years, since she was fifteen, and Tambu believes that this is one of the reasons—alongside crushing poverty and Jeremiah's overbearing nature—that Mainini is… read analysis of Mainini

Maiguru

Maiguru is Tambu's aunt and Babamukuru's wife. She studied with Babamukuru in South Africa in the 1950s and accompanied him to England in 1960. Tambu thinks of Maiguru as being caring and concerned… read analysis of Maiguru
Get the entire Nervous Conditions LitChart as a printable PDF.
Nervous Conditions PDF

Lucia

Lucia is Mainini's younger sister. Unlike Mainini, Lucia is unmarried, and, until Tambu goes to the mission, lived with her parents in relative freedom. This means that Lucia is very independent, able to think… read analysis of Lucia

Jeremiah

Tambu and Nhamo's father. Jeremiah is lazy, self-indulgent, and likes to drink, all of which makes him a disgrace in the eyes of Babamukuru. Worst of all, Jeremiah isn't Christian; he suggests several… read analysis of Jeremiah

Nhamo

Nhamo is Tambu's older brother. He dies in 1968 of mumps, and his death is the reason Tambu gets to go to the mission school at all. Though Nhamo was always a superior and… read analysis of Nhamo

Mr. Matimba

A teacher at the village school and at Sunday school. He breaks up the fight when Tambu tackles Nhamo for stealing her corn, and, after listening to her tale, he offers to help her sell… read analysis of Mr. Matimba

Anna

Maiguru's house girl. Tambu meets her for the first time during events surrounding Nhamo's funeral, and though she generally likes Anna, she also finds her unserious and too talkative. Tambu initially thinks that she'd… read analysis of Anna

Takesure

A distant cousin of Babamukuru. He has two wives and is struggling to pay their bride prices, so Babamukuru sends him to Jeremiah's homestead to help out and earn money. Tambu believes that… read analysis of Takesure

Chido

Tambu's cousin. He's several years older, very handsome, and kind. However, like Nyasha, Chido is also a "hybrid," given that he spent five years as a child in England while Babamukuru studied. This… read analysis of Chido

Tete Gladys

Babamukuru's only sister. She's a very large woman and is very traditional. Though she respects Babamukuru when she's around him, it's implied that she doesn't always take him seriously when she laughs about his… read analysis of Tete Gladys

Grandmother

Tambu's paternal grandmother. She and Tambu were very close; Tambu spent a great deal of time with her, during which Grandmother taught Tambu how to cultivate corn and told her about their family's history… read analysis of Grandmother

Doris

A white woman who buys corn from Tambu in Umtali. She's initially disgusted to see Tambu selling corn, as she believes Mr. Matimba is using the girl for child labor. However, Mr. Matimba is able… read analysis of Doris

Netsai

Netsai is Tambu's younger sister. Tambu notes that Netsai will one day make a sad and yielding wife: she's very kind and likes to do nice things for other people, even Nhamo. She… read analysis of Netsai
Minor Characters
Dambudzo
Mainini's baby. He's born when Tambu is about fourteen, not long before Mainini and Jeremiah's wedding. Babamukuru immediately begins saving for his education.
Rambanai
Tambu's baby sister. She's a toddler when Tambu first begins her schooling. Rambanai seems to genuinely adore her sisters.
Thomas
Patience’s husband and one of Babamukuru's three siblings. Like his siblings, he idolizes Babamukuru and takes everything he says very seriously.
Patience
Thomas's wife. She still has personality and spark because she's only been married eight years.
Nyaradzo
The daughter of a white missionary. She is one of Nyasha and Tambu's friends.
Sylvester
A servant in Babamukuru's house. He steps in to help when Tambu performs Anna's chores for two weeks.
Farai
Lucia's baby boy, who is big for his age.
Shupikai
One of Tambu's little cousins.
Nyari
Tambu's friend at her local village school.