Chat with Isaiah Akorita – Head, Media Campaign Team, Atheist Society of Nigeria

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you become an atheist?

Isaiah Akorita: I wouldn’t say it was a single day. I was raised in a kind of liberal Christian home and although church attendance was strongly encouraged, I wouldn’t say my family was really fanatic about Christianity. I started having doubts in my University, late 2011 and early 2012. By the middle of 2012, I was sure I didn’t believe any of those things again but I kept going to church for the music. I love classical/opera music.

Jacobsen: How did the family and community react to it?

Akorita: Funny enough, a mixture of indifference and mild alarm. While my brothers were basically indifferent and broached the subject as a matter of curiosity, my sisters were initially a bit alarmed. Obviously, they thought I had become this evil somebody or that university has corrupted me. But they eventually came around when they realised I was still the cool and quiet brother they always knew.

Jacobsen: What is the general perception of atheists in Nigeria?

Isaiah Akoria: It depends on the geographical location. In the mostly Christian south, I’d say most people see atheists as confused people or rebellious sinners who are looking for an excuse to sin without guilt. Some think we have no morals and can’t possibly tell good from evil. In the Muslim north though, atheists are viewed as the literal spawn of Satan. You could be seriously harmed for daring to come out as an atheist there.

Jacobsen: What are main problems of Nigerians at the moment? What are their main focuses? (Are they aligned, in other words?)

Akorita: In order of severity, I’d say Politicians, Corruption and Religion. And no, they’re not aligned. Most ordinary Nigerians are incredibly obtuse when it comes to identifying our real problems.

Jacobsen: How did you become involved with the atheist movement in Nigeria?

Akorita: I’ve always been outspoken about my atheism on social media and offline too. Because of that, I have met plenty atheists both online and offline and it was only a natural progression that I’d be a part of the movement in whatever form it is shaping up to be.

Jacobsen: What do you do for the Atheist Society of Nigeria on its board?

Akorita: I head the media campaign team. I’m in charge of the group of volunteers tasked with publicising the activities of the organisation on various social media platforms and news media.

Jacobsen: What are the more effective means to educate and inform the public on atheism?

Akorita: I think public debates, radio and TV appearances will go a long way into educating the public on atheism in Nigeria.

Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Isaiah.

Akorita: It was a pleasure. I hope I answered your questions.

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