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Religious transformation or hypocrisy?

Opium wars part 2

Last week, I torched a heated exchange with a couple of followers of this column.

State of the Art with Admire Kudita

I tackled the subject of spirituality, mysticism and religion. My arc was that the supernatural is beginning to be used as a crutch for people in difficult circumstences.

I did not mean to suggest that satan is a figment of the imagination of a religious zealot. Surely, there is a phenomenon in society today that is not explicable through the lenses of science.

Paranormal occurences have been part and parcel of human existence since the dawn of civilisation. The Romans and the Greeks, for all their enlightenment, had a plethora or pantheon of gods for almost everything.

Northern Europeans, too, had their own array of gods such as Thor from whom Thursday, the day, derives its name as an example. So yes, it is not a uniquely African or native “problem”. I was being deliberately provocative, with my focus on the superstitious bent of my native people. I must repeat: we are yet to “burn” our witches.
Dear reader, take this suggestion in the metaphorical sense.

House of harvest

Indeed, as I walked along George Silundika Avenue in Bulawayo, at the corner of that street and 10th Avenue, there is a new church that has sprouted and taken over the place where a company that used to sell pumps operated from.

Imagine then my dismay. The music was loud. The bass drum pounded. These joints are mushrooming. There are now perhaps more churches in town than there are actual shops and warehouses. Perhaps that is stretching things a bit. But you only have to open your eyes. It really does seem that Zimbabwe is open for business. The business of worship.

Across the Atlantic

That Snoop Dogg, a 47-year-old American gangster rapper, has released a 32-song gospel album, is the very stuff that shock is made of.

He has, of course, shocked and outraged the sanctimonious among us. I get the chagrin they feel. I do not have to condone it though. But Snoop is a notorious musician in terms of his cultivated public persona of a gangster coming off the streets of Compton, a hard-edged neighbouhood of America’s West Coast.

Those of my generation first encountered rap from the movie Beat Street and the likes of Afrika Bambaata, as well as KRS ONE. Rap has come a long way, however.

It has been taken by the likes of Snoop Dogg, alongside the late Tupac Shakur and Dr Dre of Death Row Records, to embrace themes of misogyny, drug use, violence and other ghetto vices.

When the rap group NWA (Niggers With Attitude) was climbing pop music charts in the early 1990s, its critics ranged from the leaders of the Black Congressional caucus, who decried its glorification of a depraved lifestyle. But Snoop and company pushed on with the genre. Rap was the new rock and roll. Soon enough, surburban white kids embraced the music and bought into it and rap became very lucrative selling millions of units. But that is a story for another day.
The incredulous
Snoop (real name Calvin Broadus) is continuing with his shocking career. He was always unique for me. His melliflous voice riding a Dr Dre groove was a signature sound of a turbulent and violent era of music. That era had famous casualities in Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur who had a very infamous row that played out on stage.

They both died from gunshot wounds. They lived and died the gangster way, quite possibly victims of their own gangster rap hype. Snoop thrived and rapped about selling his soul to the devil. Fast forward to today, and here is the same rapper who dabbled in porn and glorified the darkside doing gospel.

Snoop is the ultimate archetypical pimp. His image is one of a purveyor of hedonism who takes what he needs and squeezes the very juice out of life. The church just cannot deal. Well, at least some cannot. They feel it is perhaps sacrilege for him to dabble in the Lord’s music. Gospel music is sacred music.

Right to pray

In his own defence, Snoop has reacted saying words to the effect that when a sinner is coming home, the church should rejoice. I have to agree with the logic of his response. I have no reason to judge Snoop or the churches that mushroom at present.

I may feel some “typa way”, but it is really not my call to judge Snoop. There is a hypocrite in many of us . . . the armchair critic and opinion column writer who believes he has “prescient” views on society and culture.

It takes a certain kind of hubris to presume to know people’s motives for the things they do. No, perception is not reality. So, though the critics may feel that Snoop is not sincere or that his gospel album titled Bible of Love is really just a career move by an old gangster, it matters not in the final count.

Heaven only knows who is true. The prodigal son’s brother in the Good Book could deal with his brother’s return home and complained about the celebration feast, while the Father was glad to see a long lost son.

Should we not be glad that the world is getting more happy clappy (with mushrooming churches) or that there does seem to be a yearning for the supernatural (divine guidance)?

Parting piece

Snoop’s album is sitting at the top of the Billboard gospel charts as we speak. Either he is laughing all the way to bank or he is giving God the praise. Or both. Whatever the case, there is joy somewhere in the world as Snoop goes gospel. As there was joy in the new Harvest House headquarters by George Silundika, as I walked past it on Sunday. These are the times.

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