In 1980, after decades of violent war, the apartheid regime came to an end, Zimbabwe was declared an independent state, and Robert Mugabe’s party the Zimbabwean African Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) ascended to power. While black leaders concentrated on the struggle against the tyranny of racial segregation, independence did not challenge gender hierarchies or minimize patriarchal privilege. Women soldiers who participated in the guerrillas were excluded from the spheres of power and relegated to poverty and invisibility. Here, I analyze how Dangaremba’s novel Nervous Conditions
unveils women’s response to multiple forms of violence that target their bodies and minds. Although Dangaremba does not refer explicitly to the Chimurenga
, also known as the bush war, in the novel, the sadness, bitterness, and sentiment of betrayal subsume women’s feeling about their absence in the construction of a new nation. For women writers, the representation of violence, through a feminine and postcolonial perspective, opens up creative ways to pursue textual liberation, thus defying literary genre and literary forms often very connected to systems of power. In this sense, her narrative instills in the reader the sentiment which evolves from women’s condition in the novel.
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