Kwabena “Michael” Osei-Assibey is the President of the Humanist Association of Ghana. We will be conducting this educational series to learn more about humanism and secularism within Ghana. Here we talk about Ghanaian humanism in its flavour and community.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the status of the Humanist Association of Ghana now? You took over from Roslyn. Your partner (Roslyn), certainly, set forth the progress of the humanist community in Ghana a lot. What are some upcoming events and activities, and developments, for 2019/2020?
Kwabena “Michael” Osei-Assibey: The focus since I took over was in creating more spaces in order to expand our audience. Central to that was establishing relationships with more organizations and laying the ground work for our first ever Freethinking Festival as part of our Freethinking Campus Initiative.
Let me take you back a bit. HAG organizes a Freethought meeting on the last Sunday of every month and has organized two successful 2 day conferences in the past. We have also been invited to talk about minority rights and critical thinking on several occasions on different platforms. However, this has never been enough and we have always had the urge to expand. The universities seemed like a pretty good place to start. After all, universities are supposed to be prime grounds for freethinking and critical thinking. I believe that was first of many erroneous assumptions.
A few of us organized and printed some flyers and went on a door-to-door campaign on campus to get a feel about what students thought about critical thinking and freethinking. We knocked on over a hundred doors and spoke to hundreds of students in the process. Nine out of ten times when we were invited into a room, there will be either a student listening to gospel music, reading a bible or showing clear hostility to the idea of humanism/atheism/agnosticism. This was indicative of and not different to already established sentiments and behavior of the general population.
Concurrently, we were struggling with finding a new “home”, a place we can host our free-thought meetings and other programs. Over the past three years, Afia Beach Hotel had been our home. The owner, Helen List, is a member and generously let us use her space. However, the hotel was fighting a losing battle with the Government of Ghana, whom, in their infinite wisdom, was using eminent domain to take over the hotel and other property by the beach for the development of a “Marine Drive” project – a series of high rise properties. The irony is, even though she had been displaced, no compensation has yet to be paid to her. This tragedy was/is personal to every member of our organization.
It was also during this time that we undertook a constitutional review to include an additional officer, a communication officer, and review the duties of the executives. We also reviewed term limits and included a code of conducts. This was followed by elections. Our new executive body are, with me winning a second term as president, Eibhlín Ní Chléirigh as finacial secretary (second term), LLoyd Thompson as Organizing Secretary (first term), Thaddeus Twumasi as Communications officer (new position and first term), as well as Emmanuel Wolley (first term) and Selasie Djameh (second term) as Council members. The team was voted in for a 2 year term.
Back to our up coming Freethought Festival. In August, we will be organizing the maiden 7-day Festival of Ideas (Freethought Festival) under the theme – Power Structures and we can change them. Given what we experienced on campus, we realized conversations like this, and others, were very much needed. We plan to have conversations on and around gender and sex, religion and governance, science and pseudoscience, arts and social change, mental health, and social change. We are planning a diverse group of panelists from scientists, to professors, artists, student leaders, and policy makers. We are very existed bout it. Although still in the planning phase, a lot of the potential panelist we spoke to are keen to be part of the conversations. Fostering conversation after the festival and growing our campus base will keep us very busy for the rest of the year.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Kwabena.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
Do not forget to look into our associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, and Centre for Inquiry Canada.
Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.
Image Credit: Kwabena “Michael” Osei-Assibey.