Literature Today With Stanely Mushava
Book: Beyond Rebellion
Author: Oscar Habeenzu
Publisher: TheBehaviourReport.com (2013)
“Beyond Rebellion” is an unsettling case against a morally adrift generation. The inordinate promotion of sexual expressions in music, movies, magazines, social media and peer influence is more disempowering than is generally acknowledged.
Zimbabwe’s sex-captive society is culturally inverted in that the lower nature predominates the creative capacity. “Beyond Rebellion,” Oscar Habeenzu’s insanely prophetic book, takes discussions on depraved youth culture to the next logical segment.
With trending reports indicting the current generation as the lowest in terms of moral sensibility, Habeenzu vitally explores the possibility of converting that rebellion into creative power to the benefit of Zimbabwe.
The book, written from 2003 to 2013, follows the wayward behaviour of today’s youths to the rotten fibre at the core of their experiences. Habeenzu spreads out the blame for child delinquency to every pillar sector of our society and emphasises that things will work right once family values return to the centre.
Despite the profound implications of his message, Habeenzu writes in the language of his street smart audience as he re-routes “Bad Bwoy” and “Miss Badness” to what really counts.
Habeenzu deploys penetrating psychological insight, unwiring the mind of the wayward youth, and shattering the myths which gloss over parental delinquency.
He dispenses with the generic assumptions on teen behaviour and appropriates for measurement data specifically generated during his interactions with high school students while he was working with Christian outreach groups.
Habeenzu, from the outset, emphasises that rebellion in itself is not wrong, but rather a necessary function of human progress. However, rebellion must be harnessed into positive energy to facilitate greater prospects for humanity.
“Rebellion is the difference in society that distinguishes one trend from another. It is the DNA of creative thought,” Habeenzu observes. “Rebellion is what moves humanity from one age to the next. Rebellion is what is in the blood of all that desire to make something out of their lives,” he says.
Habeenzu negotiates a balance between structure as a prerequisite for the advancement and preservation of life, and rebellion as a trailblazing attribute. This picture of rebellion in the opening chapter sets the stage for the separation of the uses and abuses of rebellion later in the book.
Having set forth the heads of the argument, Habeenzu walks the reader down the journey of “Beyond Rebellion” in the second chapter. “Once upon a time, I took a journey at age 21, in the year 2000, after missing the diaspora plane to London in 1999,” Habeenzu recalls.
“I volunteered at my youth group; going into high schools to help teenagers cope with a changing environment through the teaching of the Christian culture and lifestyle in schools, a thing that I wished was taught to me when I was a ‘bad bwoy’ in the 90s,” he says.
During that time, Habeenzu scaled the challenge of teaching the teenagers what he had himself “barely passed.” He became brother and teacher to teenagers, partaking the burdens of their hearts, an experience which gave him insight into teenage behaviour.
His subsequent work with Christian groups, Scripture Union and Youth Encounter, culminated in a seven-month Behaviour Report survey on which this book is based.
The behaviour survey, conducted among youths aged between 13 and 22 in Masvingo, Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Marondera, Kwekwe, Kadoma and Chinhoyi, lifted the rug off deviant sexual patterns among the youths.
“Put it bluntly, one in every two teens is at least sexually active. That is taking rebellion to levels unknown to our nation and people,” Habeenzu reports back.
The survey estimates a 12 percent rate of abortion among teenagers, all that behind the curtains and beyond conscience.
Apparently, youths can hold together a picture-perfect personality to keep family, school and church confident of them while indulging in unthinkable perversity backstage.
“Pretending that the times have not changed does not help influence their behaviour for productivity, rather it worsens the situation,” Habeenzu notes.
“The teen of today has split images; having the ability to be holy at church, decent at home, a well-mannered genius at school, yet a hooligan with unscrupulous tendencies deemed uncivil,” he says.
Habeenzu is bewildered by the ability of today’s teenagers to alternate different personalities without an inward centre, cause or conviction about right or wrong.
In the fourth chapter, Habeenzu outlines a cultural genealogy of the current age, in light of Dr Phinehas Dube’s observation that “life is lived forward but understood backward.”
He classifies the 21st century as the Age of Post-modernism (I Do As I Please), and places before it the ages of Renaissance, Reformation, Dogmatism, Enlightenment, Romanticism and Discontinuity.
“This is the biblical age worse than that of the Dispensation of Human Government that was envisaged by the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis,” Habeenzu says.
He also assigns generational names particular to the Zimbabwean experience, beginning at the Governors, whose teenage years concurred with colonialism and extreme racial discrimination before the 1950s, to the current age which is assailed by diaspora, economic downturn and revolt in homes.
In this age of secular humanism (that reverse superstition championed by poetasters and psuedo-intellectuals, often plagiarised by their mercenary columnists who are unable to break anything down to its logical implications) family values are under assault while people choose what they please at the cost of decency, co-existence and humanity.
“Family structures are broken, society could not care less about how people behave, especially the teenager, who is a rebel by birth,” Habeenzu laments.
“This generation is unplugged; what every generation has gone through and holds dear is absolutely meaningless to them and a sheer waste of time.
“Marriage is optional because who would want to marry to be like mum and dad who are not living together anyway?
“We live in a country where even our industry leaders had been doing deals that were obviously unscrupulous hence who would want to be like them?
“There has not been integrity in the local church either, as fruits of foreign currency money changing was seen as prosperity, with preachers praising the dealers and giving them standing ovations, saying. . . see here, this is Godly success,’ really. . . ? Which God, Mammon?” Habeenzu laments.
He points out that more children have been orphaned, not because their parents are deceased, but because diaspora, prosperity and rejection have rolled blinds down between them and their parents.
“There is desperation for sanity in all spheres of life, which is not displayed by the face. Some hide it in make-up, hiding the gloom on their skin and within their hearts,” says Habeenzu.
“The face may be looking young and sweet, yet the hearts are aging from traumatic thoughts and experiences — secret even to the most intimate of companions,” he says.
Divorce, rejection, abuse, immorality, weakness and despair have set the generation culturally adrift.
Teenage girls waiting in vain for attention, affection, achievement, equality, belonging, acceptance and admiration within the family unit have ended up being torn apart by ravening males on the prowl for vulnerable innocence.
Habeenzu proposes a shape-shifting design to harness the destructive energy into a creative Nirvana.
“As Napoleon Hill discovered the mystery behind human creativity and the emotion of sex, I have discovered that sex transmutation is the sole cause of the ineffectiveness of African entrepreneurs, hence whithersover the African people gain dominance, they seem to become sexual addicts forgetting the art of human socio-economic development,” charges Habeenzu.
Definitely not judicious to limit such a remark to Africa, but a look at our entertainment, sports and politics validates the observation to a considerable extent.
Habeenzu backs the point by pointing to the shameless celebration of obscenity in dancehall and hip-hop music. The take-home message for a rebellious generation is to touch base with family values and harness unruly energy into a creative and developmental Nirvana.
- Stanely Mushava blogs at upstreamafrica.blogspot.com