Expected yet uncomprehendible: Unpacking death through Nikolas Zakaria’s Rufu Chitsidzo
Death occupies a special space in the Shona cosmology. It is a central part of the three realms of life, the ‘living unborn’, the ‘living living’ and the ‘living dead’. It connects these three life forms together by ensuring the passage of life from the realm of the ‘living living’ to that of the ‘living dead’. Among the Shona, death continues to be characterised in negative terms, feared at least and unwelcome and to be avoided at any cost yet it plays such a central role in connecting the three life forms. Thus, confronting death, even in everyday discourses is not a favourite endeavour for many. In this article we present a song by sungura genre artist Nikolas Zakaria and his band the Khiama Boys titled Rufu Chitsidzo, meaning death is inevitable off the album Zvirimudzimba (1997). We argue that Zakaria carefully presented a dreaded subject in a more palatable manner through persuading God to spare the human race the unbearable suffering which usually accompanies death. That way, Zakaria besieges the Creator; we transcend from one life form to another without enduring much suffering. The methodology used in this article is critical analysis and the conclusion reached is that various forms of art and popular culture can be effectively deployed to discuss contentious and or feared subjects such as death among the Shona people of Zimbabwe.
Keywords: Rufu Chitsidzo, Nikolas Zakaria, death, Shona, transcendence