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.