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Chinodya’s battle with religion

The strife that Shimmer Chinodya highlights in the title of one of his novels seems to be trailing the award-winning author in real life.
REPORT BY GODWIN MUZARI

In his quest to get to the bottom of most religions, Chinodya divorces himself from beliefs and convictions around him, distancing himself from his being.

He rants and curses, obviously failing to suppress seething anger, as he talks about self-discovery and the superstitious world around him.

Chinodya’s new interest in his writings is to probe religions and he seems to disagree with most forms of worship in various beliefs.

In a protracted interview with StandardLife&Style on Thursday, Chinodya said he is “beautifully confused about human beliefs and their authenticity”.

In his yesteryear novel titled Strife, Chinodya traces his genealogical roots and beliefs that shaped his family tree, yet he is afraid to commit himself to the beliefs of his ancestry.

“I have followed the line of beliefs and religions in our clan, but I cannot fully commit myself to their doctrines,” said Chinodya.

He admits that he is fighting himself and the fear of vainly running away from his shadow leaves him in a religious vacuum.
“I am afraid that if I go and start practising traditional rituals like brewing beer, I would be awakening lying dogs that might maul me. But I am also not sure what I will do if the ancestral past that I explore in Strife comes knocking on my door.”

In a story titled Infidel that wraps his latest book, Chiwoniso and Other Stories, Chinodya probes various Christian doctrines and takes a swipe at emerging denominations that he refers to as “new fanatics”.

Speaking through a character called Godfrey, Chinodya asks insightful questions about religion.

In a conversation with his friend, Godfrey says: “The world’s most problems today are caused by three main things: greed, racism and religion . . .

“If there was no religion, people throughout the world would live happily together. Look at Osama Bin Laden and other extremists. The greatest threat to the world today is a full-scale war between Islam and Christianity.”

His friend accuses him of blasphemy but Godfrey is not deterred as he goes on to ask unexpected questions about Heaven. He asks if there are any boundaries in Heaven and how “thousands of billions of humanoids, black, brown, yellow, white; souls from thousand millennia ago” will live together.

Godfrey’s comments are reflective of Chinodya’s battle with religion in real life.

I’m mature enough to confront belief systems around me: Chinodya

The author says he is mature enough, artistically, to confront belief systems around him.

Although he was brought up in the Dutch Reformed Church, Chinodya says his recent attempt to retrace his religious steps were unsuccessful because a lot had changed the style of church services.

The author said he would not belong to any religious sector.

“My religion is goodwill, respect, compassion, tolerance and openness,” he said.

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