If you are to ask me what the exact opposite of relevance is, I will point you to my Twitter. Not that this is a sob story, but it is everything that comes with unconventional thought and not so popular opinion, exactly the opposite of relevance. The term itself -relevance loosely translates to applicability to a particular social paradigm.
What of prophetic insights? Well, they are on a shelf, in an urn, after being cremated by algorithms. Which makes the definition of the term -relevance barely adequate. It perpetuates uniformity of opinion, most times, not well informed.
I am grateful for my curiosity and access to resources, both took me beyond the literary world of Shimmer Chinodya, into orbit with Dambudzo Marechera’s psychedelic and vivid literary planet as far as Zimbabwean literature is concerned. I chose these two opposites, because intellectuals have argued about the difference between the two, the popular camp will blurt out, "levels of sanity!" Here is an unpopular opinion; one subscribed to social-realism and the other is accused of intellectualism, with negative conotations on the latter. The fact that Shimmer Shinodya, never criticised the government, but stuck to extolling their positive policies, domestic and foreign, landed him deals with major publishing companies such as Longman. What it means is, his writings were passive enough to feed to young minds learning at various stages; primary and secondary school levels. With publishing deals, came with a decent writer’s lifestyle.
All this while, Dambudzo Marechera is a tramp, sleeping on park benches, living on commission, stripped to basics as he would put it across. All this as atonement for fizzling out the delusion, the 1980 Zimbabwean government was in any way different from the Rhodesian one. His writings in Mindblast, which he wrote on his typewriter off park benches, are a labyrinth, which after navigating, one comes to a halt; nothing has really changed. In fact, it has gotten worse, with Victorian imperialists, bursting under melanin laden skin suits., with their sub-urban houses and all trophies for escaping their own "House of Hunger." Dambudzo Marechera writes about the House of Hunger as a socio-economic phenomenon in which one works so hard to escape, but a privy affair, one forsakes any family ties, to protect their own comfort, also, to be in a position to ignore pleas from brothers and sisters hoping for transformation of their socio-economic lives after the oligarchy have gained access to a better living standard. He draws parallels to this in a social commentary tangent, which is a personal event of his when he got a bursary into a prestigious boarding school. He got bought a nice pair of shoes and nice uniforms, whilst his siblings who did not manage to escape where still in their buttock-showing uniforms. Education here is credited as escapism from the scathing poverty, a perpetual lie still being employed.
Dambudzo Marechera took pride in being a niche writer, targeting only the elite, the ones capable of implementing any change. In a way, he was not trying to conscientise the masses, rather, his writings can be perceived as polemics to the government, making him some form of prophet, because then, most were in the April 18th stupor.
Was he irrelevant then? Probably, but he was being relevant to a time most people would break from their slumber to be cognisant of the government’s inefficiency.
Therefore, I am convinced, relevance is a point which uninformed opinion approaches uniformity amongst a group of individuals. Who wants to be annoyed and have reality flay their psyche anyway?