Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Can you describe the local context? What is it like where you live? Also, to fill in some more blanks, what are some misconceptions about where you live?
Bwambale Robert: Irreligiosity, where I live, is not much as religions take a large threshold in the community. I can estimate that the percentage of religious diehards goes to 80% for Christian sects, Muslims may take 10 % and surprisingly even those going to places of worship to foreign religions still practice African religion traditional practices, those who don’t believe in god or gods is a small fraction of less than 2%.
Whereas education seems to unlock doors and enlighten people about good and bad, very few believe religions were invented by the people themselves.
Many people where I live are religious, normally respect and observe Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday for some traditional loyalists. The evangelical churches here open all day throughout the week as many have morning glory, lunch hour fellowships, evening fellowships and most Fridays conduct over night prayers which goes from dusk to dawn.
In this era of competition among churches, in my community, I have witnessed scores of open crusades by the Anglicans, Catholics, Evangelicals, Adventists and surprisingly traditionalists in their shrines.
For every two kilometers apart, you can easily locate a church or several churches of different denominations. In their business each one is trying to win the attention of believers, the music played has also changed, we now have versions of reggae, Rnb, Raga, pop-gospel music or song versions, and this is accompanied by real dancing. At least most churches I have gone to have invested in drums, keyboard, drum sets, guitars and music speakers.
The percentage of women in churches here outweighs that of men. Elderly people seem to be more religious. The percentage of children going to churches is also high while among the youths especially those struggling hard to earn a living seem to be boycotting going to churches. This might be attributed to their realization that the church might be using them as ladders, the behaviors of some church leaders too of committing crimes like fornication, adultery, pedophile practices, thuggery and some being arrested as con men or con women has made people alert that some mess is going on somewhere.
Some other youths seem to be fed up being told that Jesus is coming for years now and scores of them are questioning the religious leaders or groupings about things that matter to them and have not been given justifiable answers.
The high costs of living and the ability of humanity to meet the basic needs themselves have made them realize that their well-being here on earth depends on how best they work and plan for their lives. People have seen scores of people perish in floods, die in hospitals or accidents or die of hunger which are cases where god or Jesus the savior could have intervened.
A section is ignoring being religious because they see that it’s like they are being milked each other day, they see religious heads living worthwhile fulfilled lives while the majority of believers are in shacks of poverty. This annoying factor turns away believers who in the end shun religion.
Misconceptions about my work:
These misconceptions are propelled by the following:
Religious fanatics mostly leaders of the mainstream religions from the Anglican church, Catholic church, a section from American evangelical churches, some school Directors who look at my schools a potential threat in the world of competition and a few individuals who don’t wish me well economically in life
- Several people think that am satanic just because they think that being a non-believer; you have to subscribe to satanic practices.
This is a big lie because I have a feeling that Satan does not exist but I do agree that wrong acts do exist in our society and it’s our right as people to fight against them. You don’t have to be religious to fight against a wrong act.
- People think I get money from under the seas or underwater and often link me to belong to a certain group of people called “Illuminati”. Why they say so is that they fail to understand how I get money. When I take a photo with a camera, some think I am taking the photos to the witchdoctors to seek blessings.
The truth is, all my works are online and I do once in a while receive generous donations from kind people or organizations who think what I do is important for the world, it’s a pity that even those who already know I get donations, because of hate, envy or jealousy, they go on painting a bad picture so that am brought down.
- People think I will go to hell since I don’t believe in god. I think the people have no right to judge me since I live my life and if I am to go to hell as they claim, why are they bothered. The truth is neither hell nor heaven does exist since there is no proof for it. We have lost people over the ages, among them who has ever come from hell or heaven to tell us what is there?. I just think we live in a world of recycling, a world of the food chain and a world of diversity. I normally argue people to always be good, do well and avoid doing bad for it’s what makes us special.
- People think that children who study at my school are possessed by the devil, this is evidenced by some of the enemies of the school mostly bishops and pastors conducting prayers and deluding the masses that they are casting out demons in them. This is complete rubbish for my schools are as clean and tolerant to people’s beliefs, we welcome learners from all walks of life and our role is to offer knowledge, we are not devilish as they claim for I believe there are no demons.
- People think that the word BIZOHA I normally use in my projects is the kind of god I believe in, others think that am a self-proclaimed god codenamed BIZOHA. The truth is the word BI ZO HA represents three personal friends of mine whom I admired because of their good deeds and reputation in the world and generated a word from their three names as below:
BI for BIBA Kavass
ZO for Zoltan Istvan
HA for Hank Pellissier
All these three people live in the United States, one of them by the names of HANK has so far visited me three times now, Biba is a high school teacher while Zoltan Istvan is a politician, scientist, and a transhumanist.
- People think am ritualistic and that the humanism is promoting is religion. This is a total lie, Humanism is a life stance, and it’s an alternative to religion.
Jacobsen: Is Humanism is a religion or not?
Robert: Humanism is not a religion or some sort of new religion; I think it lacks the basic characteristics of religion as listed below:
A religion should have a leader, should have several sects, should perform rituals and sacrifices, should have elements of spirits or supernatural elements in its settings, should have a promise of afterlife…. paradise…… hell, should have a sacred book which believers believe in or refer to all the time, should have mediators or middlemen who connect believers with the super deity, should have a place of worship codenamed church, shrine, temple, synagogue. Should have the likes of a pyramid scheme in its setup with few people at the top and the believers at the bottom, should have elements of offerings, tithes, offertories, should have their leaders take special training and thereafter take oaths not to disclose some secrets, most dominant religions should be closely attached to global superpowers over the ages, history has it from the Roman empire, British empire, Former USSR, Arabic empire and of recent The United States of America all created religions to expand their influence worldwide.
In summary humanism, none of these shows up in humanism and this discredits it to be called a religion though like-minded individuals not interested in joining world religions do have a right to assemble and associate together in meetings like these there can’t be elements of spirits, higher powers or unjustified promises.
Jacobsen: In terms of the religion in the local area, how much authority do religious leaders have? What about secular leaders?
Religious leaders in my area have too much authority in their religious circles, secular leaders as in political circles like village chiefs; local councils and traditional clan heads have much more authority in their areas. Religious leaders here are looked at as opinion leaders and some people here still think that what they always say is the right thing.
On social functions or events, both of them are given a platform to pass a word to the locals.
Jacobsen: Is there intermingling of politics and religion? In what ways is this more subtly done?
Robert: Yes, there is a mix-up of politics and religion almost in everything. Our government set up embraces this too as the National Motto speaks it all “for god and my country”. On some occasions though political heads normally go on fooling religious leaders to stay away from mixing the two while inwardly the politicians do a great deal in corrupting religious leaders to campaign for them such that they achieve their political ambitions.
Jacobsen: What do people tend to worry about in the daily lives?
- People tend to worry about the future of Uganda as a country which is currently under the leadership of President Museveni, things keep on changing and an imminent war is possible by those against life presidency of the current leader.
- People tend to worry about life after death after being duped by a section of religions who pedal information that there is life after death.
- People worry a lot about the current health trends, high rates of HIV/AIDS, narcotic and drug use and alcoholism is at its best among most youths and mature people.
- The locals are worried about the future of their children who are growing under harsh economic conditions, most parents hardly manage meeting the basic needs of their families, there is a high rate of teenage pregnancies, high rate of school dropouts.
- Most youths and the elite community are worried about getting jobs which is almost a national problem. There are mushrooming colleges, universities each day producing graduates who find themselves in the job market.
- Most locals especially those having homesteads are worried of the land grabbers, many of the locals traditionally owned the land and have no papers to prove the land they sit on is theirs, even acquiring those land papers with this vicious cycle of poverty looming only a few can manage to process land documents accredited by the government.
Jacobsen: How do they go about their daily and weekly worship?
Robert: In an average religious home, there is mandatory prayer each time one takes a meal thanking God for providing food and life, this means one has to make one at waking up, breakfast, lunchtime, supper time and sleeping time.
Prayers have to be made on holy days as they call it say Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday for traditionalists. Locals depending on the church one are attached to are supposed to attend worship.
Among born-again sects and mostly American evangelicals, they worship all day long with services in mornings, lunchtime and evening fellowships, night praying normally follow suit most Friday nights at some churches.
Jacobsen: How much of this is truly harmful to the lives of ordinary citizens where you live?
Robert: Even though its people’s freedom to worship or pray, I think it’s high time locals try question the beliefs they believe in. I have a feeling that religion tends to make people weaker than stronger since it creates an impression that whatever we do or get, there is always a provider who is god, who can choose to give you or not yet in my perception I think its people’s hard work or weaknesses that makes them stronger or weaker. If one works hard and calculates well his moves, you succeed, if you work hard and plan poorly; you lose so I think it’s high time people start believing in themselves.
People should be encouraged to think for themselves and come up with solutions than relying on an imaginary higher power to guide them in what they want to accomplish. This means their brains should be free from brainwashings that tend to come along with religion.
Jacobsen: How can people donate and help out?
Robert: People can donate to my initiatives via the Brighter Brains Institute whom we share with several projects under the BIZOHA Initiatives. The link to donate is:
https://www.humanistglobal.org/donate/bizoha-day-scholar-sponsorship-or-renewal or send check to BBI, 425 Moraga Ave., Piedmont CA 94611
Atheist Alliance international, one of my longtime partners do accept donations to Kasese Humanist Primary school. They periodically redirect donations to me. The link to donate is: http://atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate Then select KHPS under directed donations to AAI specific projects.
You can make donations on my website at Africa Humanists; you can pick an item that suits your donation. The link to donate to is: http://africahumanists.org/new-products/ and choose a project to support.
Alternatively, you can volunteer and fundraise for my projects in your own areas in support of what I do. In case you want to fundraise, notify me so that I write up a simple intro or biodata about myself and the strings of projects that I manage. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.