the Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga (2006)

This is the sequel to Nervous Conditions and it starts off in Tambu’s second year in secondary education while Zimbabwe is still Rhodesia. Tambu doesn’t fit in anywhere, she is too smart for her family in the village, too European for the other five black girls at the school and the white girls are afraid of touching her. In the second year at the school she witnesses her sister losing a leg at a political meeting back in her village. The war for independence is making Tambu very nervous and she is struggling at school.

I loved Nervous Conditions and Tambu because she was such a strong girl, aiming high and achieving her goals. In the sequel she is completely lost, and cannot even speak up for herself any longer. While Nervous Conditions was all about the family, the sequel is more focused on the political background. And I missed the family, especially her uncle’s family.

I’m waiting for the next book about Tambu to be written as it simply cannot end this way.


Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (1988)

Tambu is not sorry for that her brother died. Because his death means that she can go to the mission school as she is the oldest girl. She also moves away from her life as a peasant and to her uncle’s house at the school. Her uncle is the head of the family as he is educated by the whites and the headmaster at the school and therefore rich. Tambu is eager to begin her new life as an educated girl and leave her old life as a poor peasant behind.

Tambu is very bright and resourceful and is doing everything in her power to achieve her goals. Because her parents only could afford to send one child to school and because she was a girl and her brother not, he was sent. Realising how important education is, she plants her own crops and sells them in order to pay for her own education. And when her brother dies and she finally can go to a better school, she studies hard to be one of the best in her class so she can get scholarships to go on to higher education. But she also realise that being educated means leaving her peasant identity behind, no longer staying in touch with her family and culture. But she also discovers that being educated means having other troubles.

This book made me realise how important education is, having taking it for granted all these years. Such a wonderful book about and Tambu is definitely a heroine. I’m very tempted to break my self-imposed no-more-new-books-until-2011-rule to buy the sequel with the curious title the Book of Not: Stopping the Time.