Mubarak Bala is the President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria. We will be conducting this educational series to learn more about humanism and secularism within Nigeria. Here we talk about Nigerian freethought and freedom of expression.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Humanism seems to wring the supernaturalism out of the ethical systems of the world’s religions and then systematize the important parts in a naturalistic framework linked to a scientific comprehension of the world. How is this view of ethics, of the foundation of ethics and morals, at odds with much of the wider Nigerian cultural framework and worldviews for understanding the nature and basis of ethics and morality?
Mubarak Bala: Well, historically, Nigeria, and the region, used to be culturally indigenous, where each section of spread tribes had their deities, cultural identity and perception of morality.
So much of these norms, before tinkering with external religions, were derived from the natural world, fearing what harms, and imbibing what’s good, over the generations.
Save those cultures that feared the birth of twins, and murdered them, or thought thunder was the voice of the gods demanding for sacrifice, blood sacrifice, we sure could say that the norms were not alarming, albeit non-homogenous, not out to conquer and absorb others.
Then came the Arabs from the north, and Europeans from the south, mass conversions, conquest, cultural elimination, redefined what is supposed to be moral, and skewed the pristine beliefs that allowed for others to thrive, soon after, our comprehension of the world skewed. Where women used to be goddesses, became ribs.
Naturally, everyone starts out as a humanist, empathetic to others, and inquiring to nature, then society either guides that to good, or deludes into indoctrination.
Nigeria specifically today, is a contraption of Arab-wannabes from the north, mostly Hausa-Fulani Muslims, Jewish wannabes to the southeast, the Igbos, and White-Caucasian wannabes, the Yoruba. The other 360 minority tribes, just wanna be one of these big three.
Smaller northern tribes hope to be seen as Hausa, those in other regions would prefer being seen as part of the other bigger tribes of Igbo or Yoruba, which essentially all reduces our ancient diversity to alien cultures – which in all sincerity, should have been better. But skewed by the Abrahamic religions, it is just worse, thus, as the religions hate the other, so do the people that adopted it, which disallows an actual Nigerian cohesion, each side with where they hope to be, in life, and in death, in harmony, and in destruction.
The south is at a better place, discarding superstition, and re-aligning with pseudo-humanism, such as a fair rational thought, education, freedom and awareness about how the world works, via exposure to cultures, media, global languages, proximity to the shores/ports, and frequent air travel.
However, the north, landlocked as Afghanistan, encroached by the Sahara as Arabia, deserted by deforestation as Somalia, swamped by illiteracy as dark-ages Europe, becomes a gradual sinking ship that threatens to swallow the country and region.
If not tamed, it will give the world a never-before witnessed humanitarian disaster of 100 million refugees with no country, and nowhere to go, trapped by the Sahara and rivers, as the other regions reject illiterate economic dead-weight.
There is hope, I hope. Humanism may show the north the way, the region with the most number of out of school children, called almajiri. The highest poverty globally, and the deadliest terror group in modern times, Boko Haram. Sad thing is, the people mostly see education, rational thought, exposure, liberalism, secularism, and humanism, as the enemy. They are convinced, that remaining conservative absolutists to centuries-old dogma, would make a better country and people.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mubarak.
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: Mubarak Bala.