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Dunduru’s novel tackles adolescent challenges

Life & Style
She said the novel captured the musings, reflections and thoughts of someone who, despite being older, still feels a strong connection to their teenage years, that is Cheukai.

MELBOURNE-BASED Chenai Faith Rumbidzai Dunduru, pen name Rumbi Chen, has confidence that her recent online published novel Ramblings of an Old Teenager goes beyond ordinary entertainment as it is an attempt to persuasively free the mind from challenges commonly faced by teenagers.

Dunduru carries through a recurrent keynote of exploring cultural diversity through literature, art, music or traditions and the human life. As she narrates past experiences in a fictitious way her usage of descriptive and reflective phrases paints images of her attempt to provide cultural healing and social correction.

She said the novel captured the musings, reflections and thoughts of someone who, despite being older, still feels a strong connection to their teenage years, that is Cheukai.

“The captivating paradox in Ramblings of an Old Teenager is a profound novel that delves into the intricate interplay between Christianity and Zimbabwean tradition.

“Follow the compelling journey of Eti, who transforms into Mbuya Zvirevo and her granddaughter Tarisai, as seen through the eyes of Cheukai, Tarisai's mother. As these generations grapple with the clash of belief systems, a gripping familial struggle unfolds. Eti's brother Mangondi and close uncles conspire to challenge her legacy, pitting tradition against her supposed destiny and Tarisai’s Christian conviction,” Dunduru said.

“Amid this tension, Tarisai stands at the precipice, a beacon of hope in a threatened family. Can she quell the rising threats and bridge the chasm between faith and heritage? Will Eti's resolve to uphold her principles fracture the bonds that tie her family together? Ramblings of an Old Teenager is a poignant exploration of identity, loyalty and the enduring power of love.”

The novelist grew up in Mufakose, Harare and acquired qualifications in accountancy and public health particularly health economics and health promotion.

“I am an enthusiastic and keen listener with a passion for writing and nature. I feature a lot of music, food and dance in my creative works. Through my writing, I explore the diverse ways in which  cultures articulate their identities and tell their own stories. Whether through literature, art, music or traditions, these expressions are the heartbeat of human experience. I strive to celebrate and share these unique voices, fostering appreciation for the rich tapestry of our global heritage,” she told NewsDay Life & Style.

Ramblings of an Old Teenager carries bold and succinct lessons on how belief systems and cultural dynamics shape our relationships and tips on maintaining one’s identity.

“One thing you need to do first is come up with an accurate identity of self. Familial relationships can easily be broken by doctrines and different viewpoints and we need to call out unfair practices especially on children, reflecting on personal growth and continuous learning as the journey of self-discovery and learning never ends, no matter your age.

“About the characters in the book. Cheukai is the rambling old teenager and mother of Tarisai, a staunch Christian. However Tarisai is torn between loyalty to her family particularly her grandmother, Mbuya Zvirevo (Eti) who is a spirit medium.

“Cheukai is indifferent though largely on the traditional side, while her husband is a convert. This is the source of their conflicting belief systems. So we see Mangondi, who is Mbuya Zvirevo's brother, plotting against her. There is also the impact of white farmers introducing new ways of living and how this divides the people. The headman and chief are symbols of power and arbitration.”

On how people create  harmony between Christianity and African traditional religion, the author says this can be be done through mutual respect and understanding. This is done through promoting open dialogue which helps in understanding each other's beliefs, practices and values.

“Cultural integration emphasising the common values and ethical teachings shared by both religions can foster a sense of unity. Educational initiatives by providing education about both belief systems can help to dispel misconceptions. Some people respect syncretic practices but these have their controversies,” she said.

“In Ramblings of an Old Teenager the exploration of Christianity, African traditional religion, physics, music, familial relationships, culture dynamics, identity and personal growth, show the enduring spirit of unity, loyalty, decisiveness and the importance of community. This reflects on a universal theme of understanding. It can be understanding oneself, understanding others for understanding one’s purpose.”


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