Ask Takudzwa 26 – Helping Adolescents

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Takudzwa Mazwienduna is the informal leader of Zimbabwean Secular Alliance and a member of the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe. This educational series will explore secularism in Zimbabwe from an organizational perspectiveand some more.

Here we talk about helping adolescents.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Teenagehood is a tough time of life. Lots of physical changes. A lot of new thoughts and feelings coming online, in more mature forms. It is a literal time of “Storm and Stress” or “Storm and Drive,” or Sturm und Drang. Just as a fun starter to this session, what are some of the colloquialisms in Zimbabwean culture for the transition from childhood into adolescence and then for adolescence itself?

Takudzwa Mazwienduna: That period of time is known as ujaha or umhandara which translates to young manhood or young womanhood.

Jacobsen: How do religions operate at this stage of life from the point of view of the parents and the general adult culture regarding their teenagers?

Mazwienduna: The default for most societies or families in Zimbabwe is that teenagers should be in Youth clubs at their churches. It’s rare to come across a Zimbabwean youth who is not in one of those. At the church I grew up in, they even had two buildings, one for the adults and another one for youths.

Jacobsen: From the point of view of the adolescents, how can they view the adult establishment (sorry, making it sound like a criminal syndicate) and the religious leaders in their communities in Zimbabwe?

Mazwienduna: The Zimbabwean youths usually supports the adult establishment mainly because those are their meal tickets. Even the ruling party has an army of Youths that are known for terrorizing people on their behalf in rural areas.

Jacobsen: What is the central claimed purpose of the religious leaders in Zimbabwe in inculcating their values in young Zimbabweans? How is this claim true? How is this claim false?

Mazwienduna: Religious leaders in Zimbabwe usually hold the most important social roles in most communities in Zimbabwe, they are believed to be the moral authority and they are guidance counsellors to the youths. They impart biased religious perspectives however and the most harmful aspect of this arrangement is the advice they give to teenage girls, encouraging them to be docile and subservient.

Jacobsen: How do the adult establishment and the religious establishment (only half-sorry this time) coordinate to bring about the religious personal identification in the youth to make the young the new representatives of the religions – whatever religion?

Mazwienduna: In most religious denominations, the youth clubs are designed to groom them for religious leadership, even I passed through these and aspired to excel at it like everyone else during that time in my life. They have merit-based systems in most of these youth clubs and excelling at them gains as much status and dignity in Zimbabwean society, just as much as graduating from university would.

Jacobsen: What are the stories of teenagers coming to the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe?

Mazwienduna: The Humanist Society of Zimbabwe hasn’t had teenagers joining particularly because it is extremely rare to find a teenage Atheist. The one member who joined when he was 18, however, was McArthur Mkwapatira. He is an exceptional young man who used to be in the junior parliament too, and he is in his early 20s and one of the founding members of the HSZ.

Jacobsen: How can, and do, you help them?

Mazwienduna: As we get more established, efforts will be made to reach out to that age group and support teenage Atheists wherever they could be. With the nature of religiosity in Zimbabwe, most of them are probably in the closet.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Takudzwa.

Mazwienduna: It’s always a pleasure Scott.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-booksfree or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican Atheists,American Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Photo by Barry Weatherall on Unsplash

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