The Cult Of The Unbelievers Analysis

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In Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness, Mda tells the story of the Xhosa people of South Africa, and the political conflicts that have shaped their society for over a hundred years. The crux of Mda’s novel centers on the rivalry between two Xhosa groups: the Believers and the Unbelievers, who consider themselves to be opposites. The Believers cling to faith - primarily, faith in the prophecies of Nongqawuse. The Unbelievers take an opposing stance, and believe the prophecies (which encouraged the Xhosa people to slaughter their own livestock) to be false. At first glance, it appears that the Believers represent religion, and the Unbelievers secularism. After all, belief is an inherently religious concept, and the opposite of religion is secularism. However, a close analysis of Mda’s novel reveals that, although the Cult of the Unbelievers is built on the absence of faith, it is far from secular. Despite its roots in the rejection of religion,…show more content…
The religious and the secular. But the world is not so black and white. Although the nature of the Unbelievers’ existence suggests the very opposite, unbelief itself is a religion, albeit a postsecular one. The Unbelievers do everything expected of a religious group: they prescribe to a certain set of ideas (unbelief), form communities around these ideas, and label themselves in accordance to these ideas. The fact that their main ideology is centered on disbelief is irrelevant – they still participate in ceremony, actively share their (un)beliefs, and view their community in terms of “self” and “other.” The Heart of Redness serves as a perfect example of postsecular religion. It is not gods that define religion, but the people who practice it. Religion is not always the worship of a deity, but is often instead found in a sense of community and ceremony that is centered around a shared set of beliefs (or, in this case,
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