*This interview edited for clarity and readability.*
Scott Jacobsen: How did you first find and become involved in Humanism? What makes it more or less true to you as a worldview?
Kwaku Adusei: It has been a long time. Somewhere in 1999, I was interested in the Bible. I started reading the Bible, trying to understand what is really in that book. The more I read, the more I come across something. I went to read the books of Exodus and Genesis. That was Jews starting choosing. That means that the Gentiles are not part of God’s family. Some of Israelites were ordered to go to Amalek and killed the Amalekites.
They slaughtered them all. I thought, “What kind of God is this?” A God who can kill a mass group of people. A God who can create even with word of mouth. That God cannot kill by himself, but only through others. I thought some propaganda is behind the story. Some political propaganda. They are seeking to achieve a political end, to achieve something by trying to use the Word of God to cover up.
You get my point. It is something used to deceive people. The more I read the Bible, I thought, “This isn’t making sense. Why don’t I go and get other books?” So I started reading the Bhagavad Gita. The holy book of the Hindu people. I read books of logic. I thought, “These books aren’t making sense as far as logic is concerned.” Then I started making the transition from the religious life to the humanistic life.
I realized if there was a supernatural power outside the universe that can give me energy, or any power to do whatever I want on this material world. It would mean that if you have a belief in God, then you can do anything. But in Ghana, this is when I changed so fast. When there are more religious people, you have more poverty. The more people become religious, the more they become poor. So something is missing.
I started reading Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene. I read Christ Conspiracy. I read Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ. After reading all of these books, I thought, “This thing we call God is nothing but something designed to deceive or enslave the masses. So that is what took me away from the religious life.” Now, it was not easy for me. The books began to shape me. I became demonized. I said, “Hey, I know what I am doing.”
My family and my loved ones, they all neglected me. I said, “No, I still have to be strong and live my life.” So every day I make sure I read my logic books and anything that has to do with science. Unless, it can be scientifically proven, then I will not believe it. If people say, “If God wills it, it will come to pass.” If I say this, I will not be applying logic and reason. In 2002, I became a full atheist.
That’s where I started moving into atheism. After atheism, I thought, “I need a step forward.” For one, we are humanists. Without human beings, it will not be easy to do whatever you want to do. If you are calling yourself irreligious, how do you work together with them on this particular planet? I started looking for others who are also thinking like me. It was difficult to me. I hide my humanist ideology for more than 5 years.
Maybe, it was 6 years. In 2010, I found 4 people who were also like me. We would get together on a weekly basis to discuss humanist ideas to make sure we make a meaningful life for ourselves without adherence to supernatural forces or higher powers. 2 years ago, I was trying to found humanist groups across the company. I saw on Facebook. I connected with IHEYO. They said they had a group in Accra, in Ghana.
I also got my friends who were humanists in Kumasi, in Ghana. I started to form a humanist group associated to the one in Accra. So we agreed and formed a humanist group in Kumasi here. When I formed the humanist group with Roslyn, I figured, “We cannot hide in the darkness. There are people outside will to hear from us. So why don’t we go outside?” Others can understand that the religious people are not what they are hearing about.
So I joined one of my friends who is a radio presenter. He was preparing something for all atheist people. And then the program features people from Hare Krishna. People from Christianity and Islam. So I joined that program. The outcome was [Laughing], I got a lot of backlash. People tried to even kill me. People, some of them got to understand me. As I talk to you, I have 59 members on my platform, where we interact each and every day on humanist ideas to get more people involved.
SJ: As well, you founded The Common Sense Foundation. What is the target audience, and the purpose of it?
KA: Yes, The Common Sense Foundation, we are an organization of the Humanist Association of Ghana. First of all, it is one part of my plan. I want to make a radio program. I started to realize there are more people who are willing to hear our message. I put my phone number on the radio station. People started calling me and saying they wanted to learn more from me. That’s where I created a WhatsApp platform and then have some direction with them on daily issues.
I thought, “Why don’t we have a platform to spread the news across the country?” If that is what we are proposing, then we can do that. Then we formed the humanist community and The Common Sense Foundation. Our main target is the youth because the youth are more open to information. The youth have now come to realize that religion is killing people. Religion is dehumanizing people.
Religion is making people slaves. The youth have the mindset, but they don’t have the courage to come out of that mess. We have come to give them that boost. We have come to encourage them. So they can be strong, be bold, and can move from religion to the secular world, which is what we seek to do — to build a critical thinking centre. Where we organize a forum to encourage them.
That way, they can realize things without panic or being hypnotized by the religious people. We cannot teach logic to some of the adults because they have already made up their minds. The youth are always looking for new information. The Common Sense Foundation is there to give them the information that they need, to help encourage them to live their lives, and can do whatever they want to do without adhering to any spiritual forces.
We realize they have the doubt, but that they are now free to move to another level. We talk to them. So that is what we are doing now, we go to the radio stations and talk to people. Those that want to talk to us, contact us, and then we put them on the WhatsApp platform to share ideas and have fun. That’s all. It is difficult for us because sometimes we don’t organize very big programs, so that we also invite +people from outside it.
Eminent and experienced humanists come to give lectures, but we are moving in that bigger direction. Especially with the critical thinking centre the work with the young people, it is difficult for us. We are talking to other friends who are humanists in their work. We see if they try and help us. The target, though, is for the youth.
SJ: Thank you very much for your time. It was nice talking to you, Kwaku.
KA: You too.
Original Publication in Humanist Voices.