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 African cultural embedment.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is Africa to you?
Takudzwa Mazwienduna: Africa to me is home. I grew up in the culture and amongst the people, and the society shaped me. There is always a strong sense of familiarity whenever I’m in any African country.
Jacobsen: What is Zimbabwe as a culture embedded in the wider African culture(s) to you?
Mazwienduna: Zimbabwe like most African countries, is a young nation with a dark past of colonialism, still battling its demons from that era. The borders of the country were drawn by Otto Von Bismarck at the Berlin Conference in 1888, with no single African in attendance, so it’s not a nation that defines a people. A lot of Karanga, Ndau, Tonga and Manyika people can also be found in Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia; other countries that should have been one with ours. They all used to be part of the Mutapa empire: a 14th century post Great Zimbabwe empire that defeated Portuguese invasions several times before British colonization 400 years later. I like most nationalists identify with that older establishment, we are the same people with the same history split in 5 countries by the Berlin Conference. The concept of nationalism is that complicated in most African countries which explains the Civil Wars and endless coups in countries where borders were drawn with various opposing tribes like Nigeria or Rwanda.
Jacobsen: What in Africa embodies a humanist state of mind, in terms of the ethics and practices found throughout Africa?
Mazwienduna: There is a common cultural doctrine in every Bantu society from West Africa right down to Southern Africa called Ubuntu (Unhu in my language). It basically translates to humanism or humane manners. It is the ethics that guide human interactions in Bantu culture and most African kingdoms were sort of Utopias because of that until colonization disrupted the cultural progress, replacing it with dogma. Humanism for Africa is a matter of claiming that cultural heritage back and discarding redundant notions that have come with colonial culture.
Jacobsen: How do these grounds make for fertile soil for humanist values to take root in Zimbabwe more in this – what we hope is a – post-colonial context?
Mazwienduna: Most Zimbabweans just like most Africans can relate to Ubuntu, it’s the principles our grandparents used to teach us before our parents took us to church. They simply have to reconnect with that narrative.
Jacobsen: How is the future of Zimbabwe linked up to the future of science, technology, human rights, and, indeed, an African humanist future orientation in political and social life?
Mazwienduna: There is a lot to be done to promote a culture of enlightenment in Zimbabwe. With the rise of the internet, the society is radically transforming and catching up to science and progress. If the conversation goes mainstream, we will be having a different discussion in a decade.
Jacobsen: How can the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe be a frontrunner in this wave?
Mazwienduna: The Humanist Society of Zimbabwe has to get the conversation going, and increase civic awareness amongst the people. They have to create a platform for religious dialogue.
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.