The Privilege of Freedom “Only the educated are free.” Said by Epicetus, this simple quote demonstrates the importance of education. A solid education will provide for an excellent future and give one freedom: freedom to take on a career, to jump at opportunities, and to make choices.
There is no saying where the future might take an educated man. Dangarembga uses highly educated and successful characters to illustrate the privilege of education and the power, control, and freedom that it provides. Dangarembga shows that education can change a life for the better by presenting the main character, Tambu, with the privilege of attending an outstanding school. When Tambu is given the opportunity to live with her uncle and go to the mission school, she is thrilled to become educated. Before her brother died, “the needs and sensibilities of the women in” her “family were not considered a priority,” and school was not an option for her (Dangarembga 12). Education has provided Tambu with the privilege to escape her old life on the homestead and “take another step upwards in the direction of” her “freedom” (Dangarembga 186).
Also, education has given Tambu the power to use her education to control the rest of her life. “By the time she has finished Form Four,” she “will be able to take” her “course, whatever it is that” she chooses (Dangarembga 183). “In time,” she “will be earning money,” which will then lead to a career and onto the rest of her life (Dangarembga 183). The wealth that Tambu will earn when she is successful will provide for her and her entire family. Education builds the foundation of Tambu’s future, and “the prospect of this freedom” is unlimited (Dangarembga 186).
The character, Babamakuru, is used by Dangarmebga to demonstrate that one educated relative effects an entire family. Education is “not just an individual blessing” but one that extends to all members of a “less fortunate family” (Dangarembga 89). For example, Dangarembga shows that one educated man can support the whole family. Babamakuru, “who had obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in South Africa,” is extremely generous and provides resources and opportunities for his entire family (Dangarembga 13). Whenever Babamakuru goes to visit the homestead, he comes bearing food, gifts, and supplies for the family to thrive off of. Also, Babamakuru is responsible for Tambu’s education and her coming to the mission school. To Tambu’s family, “Babamakuru was God”, “big brother to all”, and “his divinity” filled them “with awe” (Dangarembga 70, 36, 88).
“As an early educated African,” Babamakuru has “found himself in positions that enable him to organize his immediate world and its contents as he wished” (Dangarembga 88). His great power has insulated him “from the necessity of considering alternatives unless they were his own” (Dangarembga 88). Education has given him opportunities that have led to great power and control over others; nobody “dares to challenge his authority” ((Dangarembga 117). Without a well-educated, successful man like Babamakuru, Tambu’s family would not be as the same. Throughout Nervous Conditions¸ Dangarembga exemplifies the key role that education plays in becoming wealthy and successful. The basis of a good future begins with education. Such a privilege can lead to so many new things, and when one is educated, the possibilities are endless.
Dangarembga, Tsitsi. Nervous Conditions. New York: Seal, 1989.