Takudzwa Mazwienduna is the informal leader of Zimbabwean Secular Alliance and a member of the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe. This educational series will explore secularism in Zimbabwe from an organizational perspective, and some more.
Here we talk about building ties, mending relations, working together, and more.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When we’re looking into the racism experienced in the history of South Africa into the present moment, as you noted, even though the ongoing progressive advancements of secularism continue, this seems like one of the more obvious examples with the whites or Afrikaaners, the mixed race or the Coloreds, the non-indigenous blacks or Blacks, and the indigenous blacks or the Khoe-San. What about less blatant forms of racism between different sociological categories, different ethnic groupings in Zimbabwe, for example?
Takudzwa Mazwienduna: I never really thought about racism until I moved to South Africa. Prior to that, racism was something I only heard about in the movies or when I read history books. South Africa on the other hand is the most racist country in the world and Apartheid was invented there, so it was very shocking when I first moved here 2 years ago. There is no racism in Zimbabwe. There is no animosity between black and white Zimbabweans and they share the same culture; something the former president Robert Mugabe is credited for through his reconciliation movement in the 1980s. There is one episode however that that looked a lot like racial tensions to the outside world because of how the media reported it: the Land reform program where farms were forcibly taken from mostly white farmers by the government. In reality, it was not a race thing as the media portrayed it, the Commercial Farmers Union had helped sponsor an opposition party and it was the Totalitarian regime’s way of getting back at them. Black owned farms were seized in the process too showing that it was not a race issue. Zimbabwe has a lot of political problems because of the totalitarianism of the ruling party, race is not one of them however.
Jacobsen: What does a humanistic and freethought worldview provide as an antidote to these tensions if they exist?
Mazwienduna: The Zimbabwean traditional culture is very humanistic in nature. Zimbabwean manners are called “unhu” which translates to “being human” which is basically the same as Humanism. Zimbabweans are famous for being polite, friendly and welcoming. It is one of the reasons why racism does not exist and even the government’s authoritarianism doesn’t inspire any significant violent backslash from the peace loving people. Notable social problems in post colonial Zimbabwe however all come from Christianity; religious bigotry, especially homophobia and misogyny being at the top of the list. Traditionalist societies without much Christian influence rarely have problems with bigotry.
Jacobsen: How can the humanist community, though scattered, provide a different narrative than those seen in the past for the Zimbabweans?
Mazwienduna: The Humanist movement can restore the essence of our peaceful culture and remind Zimbabweans that “unhu” (also called Ubuntu in East Africa) is our greatest strength and the most significant attribute of our society.
Jacobsen: How can Humanists International and other organizations, or interested individuals, provide some financial or other support to these current efforts to bring the community under a common humanist banner – without regard, but with reasonable sensitivity, to ethnic differences and probable tensions in Zimbabwe?
Mazwienduna: Humanist International and other organizations can help us with awareness campaigns. We need a louder voice to remind people that our law is secular and our culture is Humanist. Misgovernance and Christian religious bigotry make people forget that.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Takudzwa.
Mazwienduna: It’s always a pleasure Scott!
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.
Canadian Atheist 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, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists,American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.