Ask Nsajigwa Nsa’Sam 1 – Tanzania’s Freethinking Tanzanians

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) founded Jichojipya (meaning with new eye) to “Think Anew”. He is among the best read – on primary freethinking and humanist sources – African freethinkers known to me.

We have talked before about freethought in Tanzania. They have an in-development YouTube channel here. Some grassroots activism here. Some work or organizations with activism and cultural exchange here: Galimoto’KaliSisi Kwa Sisi (Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Felix Ntinda).

Here we talk about Tanzanian freethought.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the current state of freethinking in Tanzania?

Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam): Let me start with an apology, sorry that it has taken me long to attend to this. It has been tight, too much pressure on my side, for over a year now – since April, 2018, precisely. I am involved in a civil case.

I was forced to open because my research investigation culminated into interviewing a prominent public figure that I had suspected and identified as a freethinker (and I was right..!), got copied verbatim in one of the Swahili newspapers here, without my permission. There was no acknowledgement whatsoever.

When I sent them a “Demand note,” they ignored it. I had two options, either to “leave it to the god” – a phantom nonbeing anyway, or go to the court.

I chose the latter course, no matter what consequences in terms of time and limited resources. I have stood on my own without a lawyer for that is damn expensive; I couldn’t afford it.

Since then, I have been attending to the court almost twice a month for over a year now, almost 40 times by now, inevitable sacrifice. I leave it to the court of law to decide; the court is a secular pillar here in Tanzania, the mainland side.

So recapturing the time, well, things have happened. We had our AGM on 15th June 2019. It was a huge success, many individuals attended – others from outside Dar es salaam.

We footed the bill from our own contribution and this time many people contributed, implying the interest and enthusiasm has soared, so after the AGM many have been joining us, importantly including ladies.

Back in January 2019, we had a guest named Kirstine Kaern from the Danish Humanist Society, who visited us here in Dar es salaam. She also had visited other east African countries and then continued to southern Africa.

We were together for 2 days and she interviewed four of us, including one brave lady. It is in her social media site named “Babelfish.” She has initiated a great idea, doing a commendable job. Jichojipya asks that she get the support to keep doing what she is doing going on.

On December last year, 2018, we were able to have our own office, and desk, within our member’s office in Dar es salaam. When Kirstine Kaern came, she met us at our office, 20+ km North from Dar es salaam city centre.

It is a positive step, progress to have that, and individuals interested are coming to visit, for discussion on secular humanist philosophy and borrow freethinking books that we have for their reading.

We also had another gathering on September 1st, 2019, as one of our members; Prof. Alex Mwakikoti had just returned to Dar es salaam from attending the burial of her mother aged 94 years. We did a dirge, condolence the humanistic way.

It is the trend we have initiated for such situations whatever it should happen. Everybody appreciated the move, more so Prof. Alex Mwakikoti himself.

Of course, we donated contributions between freethinkers ourselves, to meet the hotel room bill for the occasion, and once again many members contributed and 10 came for the occasion. We are becoming a Tanzanian freethinker’s family…!

There has been the emergence of female freethinkers thanks to Jicho Jipya efforts of identifying and unearthing. They are happy to know they were not alone as nonbelievers, giving a big relief to each.

It is a positive sign, and the idea of visiting to support an orphan centre has just been initiated by one of them in support of all. We are revamping the website because we intend to be more active and vigorous on that side.

Of course, we are doing all of these activities with our own pocket money. We have reached the stage where we need support to go massive scale on social media and to the public as a whole. This is just a quick update, sir.

Jacobsen: In terms of pragmatic first steps, what needs to be done in order to combat the superstition there, more than before? Of course, I am aware of the work by Jichojipya/Think Anew, in addition to our collaborative work beginning with African Freethinker as a publication.

Mwasokwa (Nsa’sam): It is unfortunate that in Tanzania; there has been a circle of recurrence of harmful acts of killing human beings engendered by witchcraft beliefs.

Early this year – January to February 2019, there were incidences of some children disappearing only to be found killed – in some cases their private parts removed. This was in Njombe – Southern highlands of Tanzania.

Our member of Jichojipya-Think Anew, Mr. Lucas Isakwisa, reported this in the article you published elsewhere. Needed is rational, empirical, secular education, and campaigns based upon.

Needed are resources for the rationalists and secularists like us, we need to be ever-present in the public, to enlighten the society about false claims, leading to these barbaric acts, superstition-based. It is a shame.

Victims were just school children going to school for education, only to meet their brutal death along the forest path towards, shocking.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Nsajigwa.

Mwasokwa (Nsa’sam): Thank you too, so many things to do, my apology for taking this long, “Aluta continua.”

Nsajigwa has been interviewed here. We conducted other interviews/publications in Blogogate here, Canadian Atheist hereherehere, and here, in The Good Men Project hereherehereherehereherehere, and in Humanist Voices here and here, Tanzania Today here, and Tech2 here.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-booksfree 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 AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican Atheists,American Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Image Credit: Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam).

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