Character Analysis for Nervous Conditions
Tambu's wealthy, educated uncle, who funds her brother's education and then hers. He is not "the sort of person who is easily cajoled;" he supports his entire family and wants to work towards their betterment. He still holds onto many of his traditional values about gender roles, leading him to clash with both his wife (Maiguru), his niece, and his daughter (Nyasha).
Short for Tambudzai, she is the teenage protagonist of the novel. Tambu is extremely driven to be educated, even though her parents are more focused on her brother's advancement simply because he is male. When Nhamo dies, Tambu gets the opportunity to move to the mission to study. She develops a deep connection with her cousin, Nyasha, and together, the two girls navigate adolescence in postcolonial Zimbabwe.
Tambu's outspoken aunt, who is married to Takesure. Her opinionated nature often gets her in trouble, leading some of the men in the village to brand her a witch. She is carrying Takesure's child but has also been having sex with Jeremiah, her sister's husband. While she is six months pregnant, Lucia accompanies her pregnant sister to the mission to give birth. Lucia, eager to stay on, asks Babamukuru for a job, and he helps her. She eventually enrolls herself in Grade One classes.
Babamukuru's wife and Tambu's aunt. She has a master's degree in philosophy, but her own ambitions have taken a backseat to her role as a wife and mother. Over the course of the novel, she learns to stand up to her husband and supports Tambu when she is accepted to the convent school. Dangarembga characterizes Maiguru as hen-like through the use of figurative language. She "fusses, coos, and clucks" and "shakes her feathers," "chirruping away."