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Ask Takudzwa 26 – Helping Adolescents


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/02/18

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.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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