Tsitsi Dangarembga

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Tsitsi Dangarembga
Tsitsi Dangarembga 2006-11.jpg
Tsitsi Dangarembga in November 2006 during a UK tour after the release of The Book of Not.
Born 1959
Bulawayo, Rhodesia
Nationality Zimbabwean
Education Hartzell High school,
Cambridge University,
University of Zimbabwe,
Deutsche Film und Fernseh Akademie
Genre Novels, Film
Notable awards Commonwealth Writers Prize finalist

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


Dangarembga was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), on February 4, 1959 but spent part of her childhood in England. She began her education there, but concluded her A-levels at Hartzell High school, a missionary school in the Rhodesian town of Umtali (now Mutare). She later studied medicine at Cambridge University but returned home soon after Zimbabwe was internationally recognised in 1980.

She took up psychology at the University of Zimbabwe while holding down a two-year job as a copywriter at a marketing agency. This early writing experience gave her an avenue for expression: she wrote numerous plays, including The Lost of the Soil, and then joined the theatre group Zambuko. She participated in the production of two plays, Katshaa and Mavambo.

In 1985, Dangarembga published a short story in Sweden called "The Letter". In 1987, she published the play She Does Not Weep in Harare. At the age of 25, she had her first taste of success with her novel Nervous Conditions, which won the African section of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1989 and is considered one of the twelve best African novels ever written.[1] Asked about her subsequent prose drought, she explained: "There have been two major reasons for my not having worked on prose since Nervous Conditions: firstly, the novel was published only after I had turned to film as a medium; secondly, Virginia Woolf's shrewd observation that a woman needs £500 and a room of her own in order to write is entirely valid. Incidentally, I am moving and hope that, for the first time since Nervous Conditions, I shall have a room of my own. I'll try to ignore the bit about £500."[2]

Dangarembga continued her education later in Berlin at the Deutsche Film und Fernseh Akademie, where she studied film direction and produced several film productions, including a documentary for German television. She also made the film Everyone's Child, shown worldwide including at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

She founded the International Images Film Festival in 2002 in response to the proliferation of beauty contests at that time, in order to provide diverse narratives by and about women.[3]

In May 2016 she was selected by the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center for their 2015 Artists in Residency Programme.[4]


As a novelist Dangarembga made her debut with Nervous Conditions, a partially autobiographical work which appeared in Great Britain in 1988 and the next year in the United States. A sequel, The Book of Not, was published in 2006.

Dangarembga wrote the story for the film Neria (1993), which became the highest-grossing film in Zimbabwean history.[5] The protagonist is a widowed woman, whose brother-in-law abuses traditional customs to control her assets for his own benefit. Neria loses her material possessions and her child, but gets then help from her female friend (played by Kubi Indi) against her late husband's family. The title song is by Oliver Mtukudzi, who also appears in the film.

In 1996, she directed the film Everyone's Child. It was the first feature film directed by a black Zimbabwean woman. The story followed the tragic fates of four siblings, after their parents die of AIDS. The soundtrack featured songs by Zimbabwe's most popular musicians, including Thomas Mapfumo, Leonard Zhakata and Andy Brown.

In 2011, she orated a TEDx talk at Harare called "The question posed by my cat".[6]



  1. ^ "Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century".
  2. ^ "Interview with the Author" (p. 212, Nervous Conditions, Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd, 2004).
  3. ^ International Images Film Festival for Women.
  4. ^ Wanjiru Koinange, "Announcing the Bellagio Center Residency Award Winners", Africa Centre, 11 May 2016.
  5. ^ "From Neria to Zollywood: The State of Zimbabwean Film", eZimbabwe, 7 September 2013.
  6. ^ "TEDxHarare - Tsitsi Dangarembga - The question Posed by My Cat", YouTube.

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