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Tsitsi Dangarembga is a Zimbabwean author and filmmaker. Dangarembga was born in Mutoko, Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), in 1959 but spent part of her childhood in England. She began her education there, but concluded her A-levels in a missionary school back home, in the town of Mutare. She later studied medicine at Cambridge University, but became homesick and returned home as Zimbabwe's black-majority rule began in 1980.
She took up psychology at the University of Zimbabwe, of whose drama group she was a member. She also held 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, such as The Lost of the Soil, and then joined the theatre group Zambuko, and participated in the production of two plays, Katshaa and Mavambo.
In 1985, Dangerembga published a short story in Sweden called "The Letter". In 1987, she also published the play She Does Not Weep in Harare. At the age of twenty-five, she had her first taste of success with her novel Nervous Conditions. The first in English ever written by a black Zimbabwean woman, it won the African section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989. 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."
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.
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.
Dangerembga wrote the story for the film Neria (1993), which became the highest-grossing film in Zimbabwean history. 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.
Guinea Bissau, 2009, African writers