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 African freethought.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What defines African freethought?
Mubarak Bala: Africa, the cradle of homosapien species, and one of the earliest of civilizations, along major rivers and valleys sparring the continent, allowed for the development of humanity from the crudest hunter gatherer families, to settled agricultural communities, which naturally, inquired about how we came about.
This is interesting because, back then, pre-organized religion, priests were not yet ordained, and so, every family, community and civilizations, divided by contours, watersheds, hills and forests, developed their own unique stories that best explained the world to them, and passed it down through generations.
may interest the reader to know, that these wide variety of free inquiry, free
guesses and unhindered thought patterns, aided the development of languages,
tribal and cultural diversity, as well as provided later generations a way of
tapping into the experiences and lessons learnt over thousands of years, which
still manifests today beyond the continent.
Physically, the African thought process, grew from storytelling, to legend, mythology, mysticism, magic, spirituality and nature worship, which best fits the people and the threats they faced at any particular time.
Do not be surprised, Thunder, scared and rattled the primitive man, which then created many myths around it, becoming one of the main pillars of their belief, Sango in West Africa among the Yoruba, Amadioha, among the Ibos, Kwarankwatsa, among the Hausa, are all thunder and associated mythology of lasting impact on the psyche of people to this day. Thor has cousins you know.
So, thunder, rivers, fire, rains, fertility, organs of fertility, death, air, animals, disease, and strange looking residual mountains, all became part of the deified nature, to which Africans found meaning and purpose, and the will to inquire more, then came Jesus on a Chariot from the sky, and Muhammad on a flying winged pegasus, and everything turned upside down…
Without the freedom to think and inquire, since everything became blasphemy, heresy or apostacy, Africa lost its roots, lost its pandora-tree of sapping information from ancestor avatar, and became zombified by religions and modes of thinking of mostly, singular phased brains whose source of information was mostly dreams and whims.
Without such intervention, African free inquiry might have led the continent, into a more nature-friendly, sustainable, and better economic and social diversity, with enough resources to also tame the natural environment, and shape their destiny, not losing a single child or gold to ships sailing to far worlds…
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How can Africans remove colonial baggage and traditionalist superstition to emancipate both mind and body for themselves?
Bala: Luckily, the same colonial conquests that destroyed African superstition for Abrahamic superstition, also came along with science and education, albeit with adulterated means and methods of dissemination of such, as well as disregard for diversity and history, so education became premium.
These unforseen circumstances, gave the continent a chance to reawaken and start over and pick up the pieces. Although many societies still lag behind others in the pace of rational awakening, the internet is doing wonders among the youth, unconventionally.
African youth have now set the tone that even political leaders, hardly ever stand on the way, talk less of trying to regulate the massive reawakening of the populace, effectively exposing lying pastors, abusive priests, murderous turbans, and purging poisonous texts away from curricula, imported to create as many minions as possible for desert perverts.
Africa is now being put back on track, not by he governments and the incompetent politicians, but by rational voices bypassing the conventional media, to set the tone, and set the agenda, for rational and empirically viable discourse that spills over to even beyond the continent. The next generation, I assure you, would not be as hopeless as this one, nor as wretched as the past few!
How can humanism provide a language and tradition for this?
Humanism, inculcated in not just children, but all free rational minds, have the power to turn around the continent, from mostly slumbering old giants ruddering the people to a clueless oblivion, back into the path for cohesion, freedom, compassion, education, free-inquiry, freethought, as well as sure footed political, social, economic, and sustainable, stable today and tomorrow.
Education is the key. Tolerance is the mechanism. Communication is the baton. Internet is the power.
Good news everyday so far, amid the appalling bad news. Nigerian government promising to lift 5m out of extreme poverty in 10 years. Also promising to put 10m children in school in 5 years. Also breaking 100s of chains from legs of adults and minors incarcerated in slavery, in Islamic torture centres in north Nigeria. Same government merging uniquely taught religious subjects to pupils in schools, into one course, which sees Islam and Christianity as well as a sprinkle of other paganisms into one course for all, does all the good we could hope for… Teach all the religions at once to kids or none at all, this would neutralize the radicalization and general delusion by growing minds, we always suggested, a decade into an endless war with terrorists and tribal hate.
We advocated all these and pressured the government to act, and yes, they did, and promise much, much more. There is hope!
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.
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.
Image Credit: Mubarak Bala.