In honor of International Women’s Day I would like to highlight two African female authors who have inspired me and whose writing I find most captivating. First I would like to wish all the women across the world, of all ages, races and religion a Happy Women’s Day. Feminists would argue women should be celebrated everyday and not just on Women’s Day and I would argue my birthday should be celebrated everyday but we all can’t have our way all the time, can we? On to our Heroines:
Tsitsi Dangarembga :
Born in 1959 in the village of Mutoko, Zimbabwe Dangarembga is by far in my books a phenomenal author. Her best work has been “Nervous Conditions” which she wrote at about the age of 25. Dangarembga spent some of her early childhood in Britain but later returned to Zimbabwe, where she did her Primary school right through her A-Levels. She later returned to study Medicine at Cambridge University. After getting homesick she returned to Zimbabwe where she worked as a copywriter at a Marketing Agency and studied Psychology. It was during this time that she began writing. Her other works prior to “Nervous Conditions” include; “The Lost of the Soil”, “The Letter”, “She No Longer Weeps” and also participated in the production of “Katshaa!” and “Mavambo“.
“Nervous Conditions” gets it title from Jean-Paul Satre’s introduction to Franz Fenon’s “The Wretched of the Earth”, which states, “The Colonial condition is a nervous condition.” In this book Dangarembga tells the story of a young girl Tambu who after the death of her brother has to alter her life by attending a missionary school to be able to support her family and also moves in with her uncle whose family is westernized. In this story education and its relation to gender are big components.The story brings an interesting twist through Tambu’s cousin Nyasha an anglicized anorexic girl. The story is really a great read and gives insight to the mind of a writer living in Post Colonial Zimbabwe.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria. She grew up in Nsukka in the same home formerly occupied by Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart). After completing high school she too like Dangarembga went to the University of Nigeria to study Medicine and Pharmacy.[ Is it safe to say medical schools are robbing us of incredible authors?] Adichie then moved to the East Coast in the US where she studied communications. It was during her senior year at the age 24 when she started working on her first book “Purple Hibiscus”. Adichie just like Dangarembga launched her writing career at an early age proving to all young budding authors it’s never too early to start writing. Her other book “Half of a Yellow Sun”– chronicles the struggle of the Igbo people just before the Biafra War. This book in particular gave me an insight to a part of Nigerian history I was not aware of. I could barely put down the book and it has created a desire to further study more of West African history. She is also the author of a collection of short stories, “The Thing around Your Neck”.
I look forward to more works by Adichie.
I chose these two women to honor on women’s day because their writing parallels both the African and Western experience.Though not primarily focused on the West you can see the influences of Western culture in the characters through education.On a personal level reading the books I could always find a character I related to in the book. I hope the strides they have taken in their writing will spearhead a movement of women writers whose writing is not dictated by the Western culture but really tells the story through the authors eyes.
“Can you cook books and feed them to your husband? Stay at home with your mother. Learn to cook and clean. Grow vegetables.”
— Tsitsi Dangarembga (Nervous Conditions)