Celebrated poet Robert Chiwamba has courted controversy and backlash for producing a poem in which he is calling atheists as fools.
In the poem, Chiwamba quotes Psalms 14:1 (KJV), which says, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”
But this has not gone down well with Humanists Malawi, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) that fights for the rights of secular humanists, which believes the poem has potential to fan homophobia against non-believers.
Humanists Malawi Executive Director Wonderful Mkhutche, in a statement issued on Wednesday, argues that there are other better ways Chiwamba could have used to talk about his God or Bible other than attacking others.
“Robert Chiwamba is no stranger to such remarks. Recently, he was also caught up in homophobic attacks when he used the Bible to declare God’s judgement on homosexuals. This reveals a kind of man who uses the Bible as a weapon against people whose views or practices are different from his,” reads the statement in part.
Mkhutche emphasizes that as a learned man, the poet is supposed to know better that ‘we live in a world of diverse views and among them is Atheism’.
He says there is nothing abnormal for people to disagree on some views; hence, the way Chiwamba has done it is uncivilized in a place such as Malawi where common values of liberal democracy upholds diversity.
“We remind Robert Chiwamba that there are other better ways to talk about his God or Bible, and one of them is through his own character. It can be assumed that when he goes about calling or declaring others as “fools” or God’s judgment upon them, he is righteous himself because the Bible he uses says all sins are the same before God (Romans 3:23; and James 4:17). It will be a pity if he forgets his own life, only to end up in the same hell he is promising to others,” says the Mkhutche in the letter.
“This country has come too far with its cherished democratic values, and it still has a long way to go. As youths, we are custodians of this future, which will be secured only if we uphold such values. Robert Chiwamba is a young man who needs to envision a Malawi in which all are free to believe or not to believe in God or the Bible. These are the values he must uphold in his art, as someone who is prudent enough to prepare this country’s future,” he adds.
However, Mkhutche emphasizes that his communication is not based on warnings or threats as they believe that Chiwamba is reasonable enough to use both his academic and societal knowledge to understand that there is nothing wrong in religious diversity.
The humanist has further schooled the poet believer that the greatest measure of faith in God is not by how much believers reject, judge or castigate those different from them, but how they embrace or accommodate others.
“This is also the life we see in Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, who did not call Tax collectors or prostitutes ‘fools’. He associated with them, and as the Christian faith says, Jesus Christ died for them as well,” he concludes.
Nyasa Times will endeavor to get Chiwamba’s reaction at a later stage he could not be immediately reached for a comment when we were compiling the story.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :