Tsitsi Dangarembga

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Tsitsi Dangarembga in 2006

Tsitsi Dangarembga (born February 4, 1959) is a Zimbabwean author and filmmaker.

She is famous for her novel Nervous Conditions, which has received local and international recognition.


  • The writers in Zimbabwe were also [like the characters in the literature they produced] basically men at the time.
  • The racism in England was not so institutionalized. Well, it was institutionalized, but then it was so efficiently realized that it didn’t need institutions, if you understand what I mean. In England, it was much easier not to be affected by it to that extent because my parents were students and people were somewhat respectful.
  • I realize that creative women often do not fit easily into certain paradigms. I think to myself, Then where do they go? Where do they go? Because I feel that these women have so much to contribute, that they just see things in a different way. Every society has people like that and marginalizes them in some way. So it’s a very difficult situation.
  • The skills I had learned for prose didn’t work in film. Those telling details, they’re completely different. Or the fact of these inner monologues in which you can write a whole book. Whereas prose is teasing out, film is stripping down, concentrating and compacting. I found I could not learn the one while doing the other. So it was a big struggle, actually. It took me years.
  • People who fear greatly can sometimes substitute themselves for the thing they fear
    • This Mournable Body (2018)
  • Christine has that layer under her skin that cuts off her outside from her inside and allows no communication between the person she once believed she could be and the person she has in fact become. The one does not acknowledge the other's existence.
    • This Mournable Body (2018)
  • I wrote the book just after Zimbabwe’s independence to encourage young Zimbabweans to develop themselves in spite of the challenges they would face doing so. There was also a lot of talk after independence of going back to one’s cultural roots. I wanted to interrogate that idea by examining aspects of the culture we were being told to go back to that affected women in my environment negatively. I was a newly minted feminist at the time and very eager. I also wanted to look at the ongoing effects of colonialism in the new dispensation. At the same time, I hoped to write a book that would be eminently readable, with recognizable characters.
  • It wasn't African literature that I came to first. It was the Afro-American women writers, I found them very helpful. (Such as, for example?) Toni Morrison, who is really incredible. Then I read Alice Walker and Maya Angelou, and of course there are several others I can't remember right now.
    • in Talking with African Writers by Jane Wilkinson (1992)

Nervous Conditions (1988)

  • Keening. I remember keening that seemed to go on all through the night: shrill, sharp, shiny, needless of sound piercing cleanly and deeply to let the anguish in, not out.
  • What I experienced that day was a short cut, a rerouting of everything I had ever defined as me into fast lanes that would speedily lead me to my destination. My horizons were saturated with me, my leaving, my going. There was no room for what I left behind.
  • As for my sisters, well, they were there. They were watching me climb into Babamukuru's car to be whisked away to limitless horizons. It was up to them to learn the important lesson that circumstances were not immutable, no burden so binding that it could not be dropped,
  • Plunging into these books I knew I was being educated and I was filled with gratitude to the authors for introducing me to places where reason and inclination were not at odds. It was a centripetal time, with meat the centre, everything gravitating towards me. It was a time of sublimation with me as the sublimate.