Kamugasha Louis is the Executive Director of the Freedom Center-Uganda.
Here we talk about his life, work, and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, education, and family structure and dynamics?
Kamugasha Louis: I’m Kamugasha Louis, am born in Uganda (East Africa), am currently the Executive Director of Freedom Center-Uganda a Humanist/Atheist charity organization in Mbarara District. My culture is shaped by African beliefs and practices. I was born in a catholic family with my grandparents being among the early catechist and supporter of the Catholic religion. I have studied up to the university level. I am informally married to a Humanist woman with 2 kids.
Jacobsen: What levels of formal education have been part of life for you? How have you informally self-educated?
Louis: I have studied up to university with a degree in human resource. I have always loved research and my interest has been in psychology (human programming), the African mind, evolution, and universal consciousness.
Jacobsen: How did you become involved in the Freedom Centre-Uganda?
Louis: In 2004 while a student, I questioned the relevance of religion and power relations among people in a given society. These questions were amplified by watching a movie called The Matrix which enlightened me to deeply question and started coming up with some answers that led self-awareness. In 2013 I started an organization called Youth Fraternity for Change to empower the youth to critically question different issues in the community and find logical solutions. In 2017 the need for Humanist and Atheist organization was very wanting after many people become aware of the right to freedom of worship, conscious and Humanism and Atheism concepts, its from that background that Freedom Centre-Uganda was born in Mbarara District as a Humanist and Atheist charity organization to give a platform to free thinkers to advance their life stance and contribute to society’s development through charity works eg human rights promotion and promotion and support education of vulnerable children
Jacobsen: Why, and how, did the Freedom Centre-Uganda start? What have been important stages in its general development?
Louis: Freedom Centre-Uganda started formally in January 2018 with 20 members as founder members, we registered FC in March 2018 with Mbarara District, we have mobilized all free thinkers in the sub-region and trained them in Humanism and Atheism and human rights. In October 2018 we officially became a full member of Humanist International in the UK this was an important stage in the development of FC-Uganda, and also FC became a member of Uganda Humanist Association. In Feb 2019 FC held the first Humanist café in Mbarara supported by Humanist International and 45 non-religious people attended the café. The theme of the café was Advancing critical thinking to break blind beliefs. This was also an important stage in FC-Uganda’s development.
Jacobsen: When we look at the ways in which the world of secularism and freethought have developed in Ugandan society, in general, what have been important stages? What are the important next steps?
Louis: The constitution of Uganda adopted a non-state religion and this has been an important stage in developing a secular environment. The formation of Uganda Humanist Association has brought together all freethinkers together to advance their rights. the media has become instrumental in exposing fake and exploitative religious leader (pastors), this has made many people question religion thus opening up for secularism.
Jacobsen: Who are important and outspoken voices for secularism and freethought in Uganda? How can international community members learn more about them?
Louis: Uganda has leaders of different Humanist and Atheist organizations who have been instrumental in voicing secularism these include Kato Mukasa, professor Macho, professor Kaihurankuba and others. There is a need to organize experience and learning events were international community member can learn more about secularism in Uganda. We need to have a platform where our work can be shared for all people all over the world to see and learn. Also, international conferences can be organized to give Ugandan Humanist to share their experiences.
Jacobsen: When we look at the landscape of literature and online media, what have been, or could be, important outlets for Ugandan freethinkers?
Louis: We need a free thinker’s community library where literature can be found and accessed by the free thinkers and members of the community. We also need a general website where all information on freethinkers can be found with downloadable content.
Jacobsen: Any recommended speakers, authors, or organizations aside from those mentioned and, of course, Freedom Centre-Uganda
Louis: Yes, Mr. Bwegye Deusdedit is outspoken free thinkers, human rights defender and a lawyer by profession. He is underground and can be very instrumental in secularism movement
Jacobsen: How can people become involved through the donation of time, the addition of membership, links to professional and personal networks, giving monetarily, exposure in interviews or writing articles, and so on?
Louis: Freedom Centre-Uganda is welcoming any support be in the donation of time, we need additional membership, links to professional and personal networks. We have a website and fundraising presence with the global giving platform. We also implement a project of supporting vulnerable children in education through Reason Foundation School which still needs support both monetary and professional. We are open to any inquiry concerning partnership and this is important to the freedom centre’s growth.
Please, your assistance in this question is very important and FC-Uganda has been in need of support and networks to succeed in our work.
Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts based on the conversation today?
Louis: I was really impressed with the interview, this is an indicator that someone out there is interested in our work of secularism.
How can we keep the conversation and have our work marketed out there?
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time.
Louis: You are welcome, please Freedom Centre-Uganda is open for more interviews and we wish to partners with you and other secular individuals and organizations especially outside Uganda.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Kamugasha.
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.
Photo by Alex Radelich on Unsplash
Am late here but nevertheless am happy and people like kamugasha make me proud to be Ugandan