Monika Mould is the Former Financial Secretary of the Humanist Association of Ghana. Here we talk about her life, work, and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How was early life for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, political views, educational attainment, and so on?
Monika Mould: My early years were rocked by chaos. I lost my mother at the age of 1 but my sister and I were fortunate enough to be raised by our loving grandmother and aunties. However, this meant that we typically moved from home to home and became very exposed to different families and ideas at a very early age. I think this influenced our shared lack of attachment to any specific ideology and instilled a natural skepticism in us. I remember questioning the existence of God at age 10, debating with an older friend who later became a pastor. Clearly, my arguments weren’t strong enough but it foreshadowed the uphill battle to come of trying to combat deeply held religious beliefs with reason even with the most otherwise rational people. I grew up having very liberal views because I my upbringing wasn’t very conservative by Ghanaian standards. I spoke three Ghanaian languages Fante & Ga because I lived with both sides of the family and twi is largely spoken in Accra. I attended all catholic schools up until high school but attended a secular liberal arts university also in Ghana.
Jacobsen: When it comes to secularism and humanism, when did these become important philosophical views for you?
Mould: I first became exposed to the idea of humanism through our freethought Ghana group. An old schoolmate of mine called me one day and said “I heard you’re an atheist”. I immediately became defensive because this statement is usually an accusation but he surprised me by inviting me to join the then newly formed Facebook group of Ghanaian Freethinkers. The group agreed to start meeting in person and before long, we started discussing humanism because the underlying concept of atheism or freethought did not in themselves hold any ethical value or guidelines for interacting with others and for contributing to society in a meaningful way. We later became the founding members of the Humanist Association of Ghana. In hindsight, I always identified with secular and humanist principles to some extent which contributed to why I abandoned religion.
Jacobsen: Many humanists would identify as one form of feminist or other. What seems to ally various streams of feminist thought with humanism?
Mould: The concept of equality and fairness is key here; humanism is concerned with reducing suffering and one of the greatest injustices in our world today is the oppression of a majority based on their gender.
Jacobsen: What have been your executive roles, and associated tasks and responsibilities, with the Humanist Association of Ghana?
Mould: I first served as a council member, tasked with ensuring that the team stayed true to our values and the original goals of the organization, and subsequently became the Treasurer for a brief stint before leaving Ghana.
Jacobsen: How does empowerment and advancement of women in Ghana help with the advancement of humanistic values?
Mould: Well, that’s more than half of the population contributing more to our economy, and including more voices in our political, professional, educational, entertainment and social spaces! Humanist ideas across the globe can only evolve by empowering women and listening to more diverse voices. Most humanist forums tend to be male dominated so we do need more representation to ensure that women’s interests are being prioritized as well.
Jacobsen: What are your hopes for the youth humanist community moving into 2019/2020 more?
Mould: That we are able to collaborate with more societies that share some of our common goals, and reach out to young people who have open minds but do not have an avenue to openly express their ideas or a community to support them. Our executive teams have been very proactive in reaching outside our community to collaborate with feminist and LGBT activists, governmental and international orgs as well as other humanist groups both in and outside Ghana. Our members have also been very vocal on social media and participated in events to condemn oppressive voices in Ghana who are touting homophobia and misogyny in the mainstream media.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Monika.
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.
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Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.