Nervous Conditions

by

Tsitsi Dangarembga

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Maiguru Character Analysis

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 for everyone, as well as deserving of the utmost respect. She believes Maiguru's life cannot possibly have any downsides, given that she's married to the wonderful Babamukuru. This illusion begins to break down when Tambu begins attending the mission school and observes Maiguru at close quarters. Nyasha insists that Maiguru doesn't want respect, and that she likes to complain, which baffles Tambu. Tambu learns after a few months that Maiguru went to England to study for a master's in philosophy, not just to care for Babamukuru. Maiguru also doesn't have control over her paycheck. Though Tambu finds this sad, she again cannot truly appreciate Maiguru's missed opportunities and oppression given that Maiguru is married to Babamukuru and therefore, cannot have a bad life. As the senior wife, Maiguru is expected to cook for the entire extended family during family gatherings, though she's excluded from patriarchal meetings. The other lesser women of the family, like Mainini and Patience, believe that Maiguru thinks she's better than them because of her education and her wealth. Maiguru finally takes a stand against Babamukuru after the wedding. She insists that she's tired of having to care for Babamukuru's family and of being told what to do, so she leaves for five days. Upon her forced return, Maiguru is happier and more vocal about her beliefs. She advocates for Babamukuru to allow Tambu to attend Sacred Heart and insists that going to the school won't turn Tambu into a "loose" woman, as she recognizes that "loose" is merely a slur designed to punish women for being anything more than wives and mothers.

Maiguru Quotes in Nervous Conditions

The Nervous Conditions quotes below are all either spoken by Maiguru or refer to Maiguru. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Lynne Rienner Publishers edition of Nervous Conditions published in 2004.
Chapter Four Quotes

This lack of brilliance was due, I discovered years later when television came to the mission, to the use of scouring powders which, though they sterilized 99 percent of a household, were harsh and scratched fine surfaces. When I found this out, I realized that Maiguru […] must have known about the dulling effects of these scourers […] By that time I knew something about budgets as well, notably their inelasticity. It dawned on me then that Maiguru's dull sink was not a consequence of slovenliness, as the advertisers would have had us believe, but a necessity.

Related Characters: Tambu (speaker), Babamukuru, Maiguru
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] the real situation was this: Babamukuru was God, therefore I had arrived in Heaven. I was in danger of becoming an angel […] and forgetting how ordinary humans existed—from minute to minute and from hand to mouth. The absence of dirt was proof of the other-worldly nature of my new home.

Related Characters: Tambu (speaker), Babamukuru, Maiguru
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Five Quotes

"Maybe that would have been best. For them at least, because now they're stuck with hybrids for children. And they don't like it. They don't like it at all. It offends them. They think we do it on purpose, so it offends them."

Related Characters: Nyasha (speaker), Tambu, Babamukuru, Maiguru, Chido
Related Symbols: England
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

"I thought you went to look after Babamukuru," I said. "That's all people ever say."

Maiguru snorted. "And what do you expect? Why should a woman go all that way and put up with all those problems if not to look after her husband?"

Related Characters: Nyasha (speaker), Maiguru (speaker), Babamukuru
Related Symbols: England
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

I felt sorry for Maiguru because she could not use the money she earned for her own purposes and had been prevented by marriage from doing the things she wanted to do. But it was not so simple, because she had been married by my Babamukuru, which defined her situation as good.

Related Characters: Nyasha (speaker), Babamukuru, Maiguru
Page Number: 103-104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Seven Quotes

But the women had been taught to recognize these reflections as self and it was frightening now to even begin to think that, the very facts which set them apart as a group, as women, as a certain kind of person, were only myths; frightening to acknowledge that generations of threat and assault and neglect had battered these myths into the extreme, dividing reality they faced, of the Maigurus or the Lucias.

Related Characters: Tambu (speaker), Mainini, Maiguru, Lucia, Patience
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

"Because she's rich and comes here and flashes her money around, so you listen to her as though you want to eat the words that come out of her mouth […] I am poor and ignorant, that's me, but I have a mouth and it will keep on talking, it won't keep quiet."

Related Characters: Mainini (speaker), Tambu, Maiguru, Lucia, Patience
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Nine Quotes

"I don't know what people mean by a loose woman—sometimes she is someone who walks the streets, sometimes she is an educated woman, sometimes she is a successful man's daughter or she is simply beautiful. Loose or decent, I don't know."

Related Characters: Maiguru (speaker), Tambu, Babamukuru
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Ten Quotes

"Look what they've done to us," she said softly. "I'm not one of them but I'm not one of you."

Related Characters: Nyasha (speaker), Tambu, Babamukuru, Maiguru
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Nervous Conditions LitChart as a printable PDF.
Nervous Conditions PDF

Maiguru Character Timeline in Nervous Conditions

The timeline below shows where the character Maiguru appears in Nervous Conditions. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter One
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...isn't about Nhamo's death as much as it's about her and Lucia's escape, Mainini and Maiguru's entrapment, and the many rebellions of her cousin, Nyasha. (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...Netsai to fetch it from the terminal. One bag usually contains tea for Mainini from Maiguru, but Nhamo keeps it for himself. (full context)
Chapter Two
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...so would've annoyed the missionaries who helped him get so far already. They even offered Maiguru a scholarship to study as well. Eventually, they decided to go and take Chido and... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Tambu thought that this was silly, as Maiguru was educated and didn't serve Babamukuru books for dinner. She went to Mainini and spat... (full context)
Chapter Three
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...the house with his siblings and other paternal aunts, while other female relatives remain outside. Maiguru is the last one inside and looks no different than when she left. Nyasha, however,... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...and the women cook ten gallons of sadza and a small pot of rice on Maiguru's Dover stove for Babamukuru. The women dish up dinner for the patriarchal relatives. (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...negative attention now as a teen, she invites Nyasha to dance. When Nyasha looks confused, Maiguru explains that Nyasha and Chido no longer understand Shona well. (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...have with Nyasha and Chido and feels they've turned into strangers. Suddenly sad, Tambu implores Maiguru to ask them to dance. Though the conversation is in English, Tambu can tell that... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...use silverware. Tambu is extremely jealous and finally shouts that during their visit, Babamukuru and Maiguru ate with their hands. Nhamo insists that they eat with silverware and individual plates at... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...family eats dinner, and then they hear a car. It's Babamukuru, looking old and tired. Maiguru is with him, but Nhamo isn't. Mainini starts to shriek and falls, accusing Babamukuru of... (full context)
Chapter Four
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...be like at the mission. She wonders if she'll sleep with Nyasha or with Anna, Maiguru's house girl. Tambu is uncomfortable with the possibility of sleeping with Nyasha, as Nyasha is... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...the kitchen is grand, Tambu the narrator explains that the kitchen betrayed that Babamukuru and Maiguru were on a budget. The linoleum was old, the stove had only three plates, and... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
Anna shows Tambu to the living room to wait for Maiguru, who is resting. Tambu hopes Maiguru isn't ill and sits on a sofa. Tambu takes... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...the window and watches students stroll around outside. Anna explains that it's the school bell. Maiguru appears and greets Tambu strangely with a high-five. Tambu sinks to her knees and greets... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Tambu takes a small biscuit, which seems to worry Maiguru. She offers sodas and Tambu tries to reassure her by taking a gulp of tea,... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Maiguru gives a little laugh and says that Chido and Nyasha are too anglicized and are... (full context)
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
They argue for a moment, and then Nyasha pointedly ignores Maiguru. Maiguru motions to the other bed and tells Tambu that she'll sleep there. Tambu is... (full context)
Chapter Five
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
For a while after Maiguru leaves, Nyasha pointedly reads and ignores Tambu. Eventually the girls begin looking sideways at each... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Morosely, Nyasha says that she and Chido shouldn't have gone to England, as Babamukuru and Maiguru are now "stuck with hybrids for children" and don't like them. Tambu tells Nyasha that... (full context)
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...serving dishes, and Nyasha sits at one end, reading. Nyasha puts her book away when Maiguru comes in. Seated, the women say grace, and then Babamukuru arrives, annoyed that they started... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Maiguru shows Babamukuru Nyasha's copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover. Babamukuru insists that his daughter won't read... (full context)
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...down right, and she struggles to use her knife and fork. After a few minutes, Maiguru rings a bell and asks Anna to bring sadza and a spoon for Tambu. Tambu... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...if she forgot it somewhere. She pushes back to go check in the bedroom, but Maiguru scolds her to stay put and to not talk about the book. Nyasha accuses her... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...seat, she struggles to choose where to sit: there's room on the sofa next to Maiguru and an armchair next to Babamukuru, but both would be too close to her uncle... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...woman so she can have a good future and raise up her family. He asks Maiguru if she has anything to add. She doesn't, so Babamukuru excuses Tambu. (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
...and scrubs herself three times just to enjoy feeling clean. Tambu finishes her bath when Maiguru knocks and then generously runs Nyasha's bath for her. Tambu makes note of what Nyasha... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
...bacon and eggs and refuse porridge on the grounds that it might make her fat. Maiguru worries over Tambu and finally, gives her a shilling to buy buns at break. This... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...only normal thing is that she continues to do well in school, as Babamukuru and Maiguru give her the time and the space to study. (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...that despite the expense of tampons and the fact that nice girls don't use them, Maiguru would rather buy them than have either girl get pregnant. (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...is perplexing: she has everything and should be content, but she isn't. Nyasha believes that Maiguru is trapped and miserable, which Tambu doesn't understand at all. Tambu says that she and... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...Anna, who used to be interesting and is now just boring. Tambu also wonders about Maiguru, who seems to have every reason to be content in her beautiful life. Maiguru may... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Tambu discovers how highly educated Maiguru is one Sunday. After church, Tambu meets up with Nyasha to chat with friends. Nyasha... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...compliment Babamukuru on Nyasha, who he says will bring home a master's degree just like Maiguru. He also compliments Tambu, and the news that Maiguru has a master's degree piques Tambu's... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
After dinner, Tambu finally asks Maiguru if she actually has a master's degree. Maiguru is flattered, though sarcastic when Tambu notes... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Tambu feels sorry for Maiguru because everything she said was reasonable: she's being prevented from reaching her full potential or... (full context)
Chapter Six
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...recognize her. He thinks that her dress is too skimpy and only backs down when Maiguru admits that she bought it for Nyasha. (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...to leave the room, but Tambu can feel the atmosphere growing dangerous. She wakes up Maiguru and when they return to the bedroom door, they find Chido there as well. He... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...floor, hitting her and banging her head into the floor, while Nyasha screams and fights. Maiguru and Chido try to pull Babamukuru off of Nyasha, but he insists he'll kill Nyasha... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...calls them back inside. He puts out Nyasha's cigarette and begs her to not upset Maiguru anymore. Nyasha asks if anyone cares about her needs, but Chido says that she's the... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Maiguru sees this as well but doesn't know what to do. One day, as she and... (full context)
Chapter Seven
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
On December 23, Babamukuru, Maiguru, Nyasha, and Tambu go to the homestead for Christmas. Chido gets out of going. Nyasha... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...family heads off with Anna and as much food as will fit in the car. Maiguru grumbles that a half an ox is too much meat. Her grumbling at Babamukuru is... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Lucia greets Maiguru warmly and then leads her to the house, while Babamukuru unlocks the trunk. He imperiously... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Babamukuru and Maiguru enter the room. The adults greet each other, and Mainini makes rude comments about believing... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...help, and four of the thirteen women are under age four, so it falls to Maiguru, Nyasha, Tambu, and the three house girls to do all the work. (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...the adults to wash, which takes hours. Then, they cook breakfast and boil tea on Maiguru's Dover stove. After cleaning up, the girls have to fetch water from Nyamarira. When the... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...unfair not to include Lucia. Patience agrees and Lucia, boiling with rage, tries to get Maiguru to take a side. Maiguru sidesteps and refuses. Tambu notes that none of the women... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Maiguru distantly says that the matter doesn't concern her, as neither Lucia nor Takesure are her... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...to not have to explain her mother's words. Later, Nyasha insists that both Mainini and Maiguru are suffering, though Tambu insists that Maiguru can't suffer. (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Maiguru passes through the meeting and Babamukuru gives her permission to continue through to the bedroom.... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
...colonized and their debate ends. Tambu carries breakfast into the living room, where Gladys and Maiguru are giggling about Babamukuru's reaction to Lucia inserting herself. Gladys asks whether a wedding or... (full context)
Chapter Eight
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
After waving goodbye to Babamukuru, Maiguru, and Nyasha, Takesure invites Lucia to sleep with him that night. She refuses, reminding the... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
...and sinks to her knees to thank Babamukuru for his generosity. Mainini joins and then Maiguru does, and Tambu wants to as well. Nyasha kicks Tambu under the table and tells... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...is shocked when he discovers what the cost will be, so he attempts to make Maiguru give Mainini her wedding dress. Maiguru is angry and finally agrees to lend Mainini her... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
For several weeks, Maiguru forgets to purchase the cloth and finally, Nyasha heads up the expedition. When they deliver... (full context)
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...back to the mission until well after dark. Nyasha is asleep, and Tambu wakes up Maiguru by trying to knock on the window. Maiguru scolds Tambu, but Nyasha says nothing. The... (full context)
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...the foot of the bed, watching Nyasha talk to her own lifeless form. Tambu watches Maiguru walk in and then Babamukuru, who looks annoyed. Tambu feels that Babamukuru can't reach her... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...Nyasha tries to soothe Tambu and assures her that Babamukuru won't throw her out. When Maiguru calls for Nyasha, she goes. (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...is uncharacteristically patient with her but insists Tambu needs to learn obedience. He notes that Maiguru would never disobey him like that. Lucia points out that wives are obliged to obey,... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Babamukuru finds this funny and laughs after Lucia leaves. Maiguru, however, explodes. She tells Babamukuru that she's tired of him taking her money to feed... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
That night, Tambu and Nyasha wonder whether Maiguru will leave or not. Nyasha seems to be in awe of her mother. Surprisingly, Maiguru... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...his best to pretend that nothing is wrong. On Thursday, Chido calls with news that Maiguru is at her brother's home. Nyasha is upset that Maiguru went to a man and... (full context)
Chapter Nine
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...the mission will best prepare Tambu for marriage, which makes Tambu lose interest. He asks Maiguru if she has anything to add and surprisingly, she does. She doesn't believe that Tambu... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
...impatiently for Christmas so they can discuss her schooling, but unfortunately, nobody comes to stay: Maiguru refuses to cook for two dozen people again, so Babamukuru drives to the homestead daily.... (full context)
Chapter Ten
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...things are coming together and she's entering a world where her burdens will be light. Maiguru and Nyasha also accompany Tambu to school, which annoys Babamukuru. Maiguru bakes a beautiful chocolate... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
Tambu, Babamukuru, Maiguru, and Nyasha join the throng of students and parents. Tambu is disappointed to see that... (full context)
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
Babamukuru and Maiguru make Tambu's bed while Tambu unpacks. Then, they say goodbye. Babamukuru is brisk, Maiguru is... (full context)
The Limits of Education Theme Icon
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...two glasses of water and devours her food as fast as she can. Babamukuru and Maiguru look relieved, but Tambu hears Nyasha vomiting later. Afterwards, Nyasha returns to her books. She... (full context)
Obedience vs. Independence Theme Icon
...she can't follow through. At lunch, Nyasha refuses to leave her room, which angers Babamukuru. Maiguru comforts Babamukuru, and they say that it's not so serious, since Nyasha eats at supper.... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
...them grovel. Tambu touches Nyasha, which sends her into a fit of rage. Babamukuru and Maiguru come running as Nyasha shreds her books, breaks things, and then suddenly calms down. She... (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
Babamukuru drives Nyasha into Salisbury the next morning on the advice of Maiguru's brother. Maiguru's brother makes Nyasha an appointment with a psychiatrist, but the psychiatrist insists that... (full context)