Education and the Other Side of Babamukuru

Nervous Conditions. Yes, it does make me nervous all the way through the end of the novel. There is more about education that Tsitsi Dangarembga implicitly tells us about. Education is more than about going to school, being able to read and write, and then getting a well-paid job after graduate. It is more than that. This can be seen through Babamukuru’s role in his family. Education, for Tambudzai’s family at least, is about influence. Being able to obtain a proper education will determine one’s fate, one’s future, and absolutely one’s reputation. However, is that always the case?

                   Luckily, or maybe unluckily for him, throughout his life Babamukuru had found himself – as eldest child and son, as an early educated African, as husband and father, as provider to many – in positions that enabled him to organize his immediate world and its contents as he wished. (88)

Babamukuru is a well-respected man among the people in his family. Through his hard work and perseverance, he is able to get an education. Yes, the fact that he is a “man” may grant him more access to achieve his dreams. Even more, he has become a principal of a mission. That is huge! To that extent, Babamukuru is also eager to help his brother’s children, Nhamo and Tambudzai, to go to school. He wants these kids to see the world from different perspectives. To Babamukukuru, education seems to be the only way out of destitution. It is the pathway that someone can take to step on a higher level of life.

Throughout the novel, however, Dangarembga slowly depicted how Babamukuru had quite successfully built attention around him. Even in a very private matter regarding Jeremiah’s family, Babamukuru did not feel hesitant to interrupt. A wedding, which should have been a sacred and intimate commitment between two people, was interrupted by an outside party – made Jeremiah and his wife looked like “the starts of a comic show, the entertainers.” (165) Nonetheless, it was not Babamukuru’s place to decide regarding this particular matter.

Babamukuru might not have valued a wedding as important, but Tambudzai just could not stand the way her uncle treated her parents. His educational achievements make the father of two children more focus on other people’s impressions towards him. It is undeniable that the primary purpose of education is to build a solid future foundation, but what’s good of it if one fails to even grants respect – as one of the most valuable features of a strong kinship?


About monicatham

My name is Monica Tham, and I am originally from Indonesia. I've spent the last two years of community college in Seattle. So this will be my second year here in the capital, and I'm so excited to finish my senior year strong. I am majoring in International Studies at SIS with a concentration on Global Inequality and Development in Asia. This is my second class-related blog - but I hope you'd enjoy the content. I love short getaways to places I've never been to - I'm proud enough to call myself a travel buff and foodie :) Thanks for visiting my blog. Cheers, Monica

Posted on September 11, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I find your post to be very interesting because you connect Babamukukuru’s education background with his “rude” intervention during the wedding. As the professor has mentioned in the lecture, there seems to be a “right” path to success. This viewpoint seems to correspond to what you have mentioned in the beginning: “going to school, being able to read and write, and then getting a well-paid job after graduate.” Babamukukuru is obviously the symbol and the typical image of a “successful” male (I specified the gender because his wife is also well-educated, but is not considered, or at least not depicted, to be a “successful” figure) figure.

    As you have pointed out, Babamukukuru seems to be a well-educated person, and is very willing to help other family members when they are in need. But he fails to respect them. Your last paragraph raised a good question, and I would say that it is Babamukukuru’s arrogance that leads to his disrespect toward other people. Indeed, his education allows him to know more things than uneducated people, but he forgets that knowing more doesn’t mean knowing all. Personally speaking, I think that we, college students, should also be careful lest we become the next Babamukukuru.

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