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Mail & Guardian - - Friday -

cook and eat it. This sym­bol of her mother’s con­cern, un­com­pro­mis­ing and plain, like her mother, tor­ments Tambu and fol­lows her even when she thinks she has left it be­hind. At one point she says: “You should have eaten it, you rep­ri­mand your­self, cooked your mother’s love ... and taken it into your body. In this way you would have made a home wher­ever you were.”

In this novel Dan­garem­bga deals less with pa­tri­archy and more with the man­i­fes­ta­tions of fem­i­nism and the sol­i­dar­ity of women.

As a mi­nor theme she also ad­dresses white­ness, and “the English­ness” Tambu’s mother so ab­horred in Ner­vous Con­di­tions. She in­te­grates three white char­ac­ters into the plot: the widow Ri­ley, a pitiable old white woman aban­doned by her chil­dren who, in her con­fu­sion, in­sists Tambu is her daugh­ter; Leon, Nyasha’s hus­band brought from Ber­lin with his dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes to money and work; and Tracey Steven­son, Tam­budzai’s fren­emy from school days, the ad agency and then her boss at Green Jacaranda Sa­faris. It is the whole way of be­ing of the West that brings so much painful con­flict to Tam­budzai.

When the game farm owned by Tracey’s fam­ily and on which Tambu leads her eco­tours is taken over by “war vets”, Tracey pushes Tambu to set up a new tour in her home area. This is what has brought Tam­budzai back to the vil­lage, in her os­ten­ta­tious ve­hi­cle. She is re­lieved to find that her mother is well dis­posed to the tourism idea.

Al­though it will bring op­por­tu­nity and money, it is still some­thing that has to be care­fully ne­go­ti­ated. Tambu does her best, but Tracey im­poses a de­mand re­lat­ing to women danc­ing with bared breasts for tour groups. This is too much for Tam­budzai’s mother. Re­fus­ing to be pho­tographed with Tambu, she grabs an ex­pen­sive Ger­man cam­era and flings it by the strap into a mango tree.

“How dare you,” she screams, al­though the vis­i­tors can­not un­der­stand her. “You want to laugh at my child when you are back home be­cause her mother is a naked old woman.”

This dra­matic and cathar­tic scene is not the end. Tam­budzai finds she has much to learn “con­cern­ing the unhu, the qual­ity of be­ing hu­man, ex­pected of a Zim­bab­wean woman and a Si­gauke, who has many rel­a­tives who ei­ther served or fell in the war”. This leads, af­ter a few months of tears and penance, to a sat­is­fy­ing, but not sim­ple, res­o­lu­tion of the novel. And it an­swers the ques­tion about whether she is still a per­son, de­spite her ed­u­ca­tion and her aspi­ra­tions.

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