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 more.
Here we talk about legacy in African freethought.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In spite of the extensive record of secularism and humanism being built on the backs of some prominent figures in the history of African freethought, including, as Dr. Leo Igwe remarked in the past to me (credit where credit is due), Tai Solarin, Sheila Solarin, Mokwugo Okoye, Beko Ransome Kuti, Wole Soyinka, Steve Okecha, Nkeonye Otakpor. Of course, we can see a current crop:
- Leo Igwe (Founder, Nigerian Humanist Movement; Founder, Advocacy for Alleged Witches),
- Mubarak Bala (President, Humanist Association of Nigeria)
- Alex Mwakikoti (Tanzania)
- Gayleen Cornelius (Co-Founder, Cornelius Press; Africa Regional Committee Southern Region Representative, Young Humanists International)
- Viola Namyalo (Uganda, Chair, African Regional Committee, Young Humanists International)
- Payira Bonnie (President, Humanists of Northern Uganda (Humanists NUg)
- Jani Schoeman (Former President, South African Secular Society)
- Rick Raubenheimer (President, South African Secular Society)
- Wynand Meijer (Vice-President, South African Secular Society)
- Haafizah Bhamjee (Executive-Administrator, “Ex-Muslims of South Africa”)
- Karrar Al Asfoor on Atheism (Co-Founder, Atheist Alliance – Middle-East and North Africa & United Atheists of Europe)
- Roslyn Mould (Board Member, Humanists International)
- Kwabena “Michael” Osei-Assibey (President, Humanist Association of Ghana)
- Immoh Obot (Nigeria)
- Abdulrahman Aliyu (Nigeria)
- Edward Seaborne (Administrator, “The African Atheist”)
- Kate Bukulu Sman (Uganda)
- Larry Mukwemba Tepa (President, Humanists and Atheists of Zambia)
- Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) (Founder, Jichojipya/“Think Anew”)
- Thasiyana Mwandila (Vice President, Humanists & Atheists of Zambia)
- Prosper Mutandadzi (Zimbabwean Author, Filmmaker, Freethinker, & Humanist)
- Kamugasha Louis (Executive Director, Freedom Center-Uganda)
- Kiketha Tadeo (Director, Kyangende Secular Services)
- Alton Mungani (Co-Founder, Editor, & Curator of Zimbabwean Atheists)
- Susan Nambejja (Malcolm Childrens’ Foundation)
- Bwambale Musubaho Robert (School Director, Kasese Humanist School – Rukoki/Muhokya/Kahendero)
- Abiodun Sanusi (Nigeria)
- Kenneth Kaunda (African Humanism)
- Norm R. Allen, Jr. (Former Executive Director, African Americans for Humanism)
- Lucas Isakwisa (Tanzania)
- Adeyemi Ademowo Johnson (Nigeria)
- George Ongere (Center for Inquiry in Kenya)
- Kato Mukasa (Former Board Member, IHEU/Humanists International)
- Chiedozie Uwakwe (Nigeria)
- Alex Kofi Donkor (Ghanaian Human Rights Advocate & LGBTQ Activist)
There are so many others, too, who I cannot even remember off the top. Some we have lost including Deo Ssekitoleko (Representative of Center for Inquiry International – Uganda), Ali A. Mazrui, J.K. Nyerere, George Ayittey, or Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru (Tanzanian politician). On the global community loss, as well, of Ssekitoleko, the idea of the average lifespan hovering around 61 years for Zimbabweans makes the regional community coming together on common problems a necessity, so as to provide a trajectory and sensibility of passing off something worth handing down to the next generations who will inevitably have more energy and less wisdom to comprehend the contexts around them. Why choose a path of secularism, of humanism, of freethought?
Takudzwa Mazwienduna: The cultural evolution in Zimbabwe was disrupted to a large extent by the disenfranchisement of Shona and Ndebele culture by the London Missionary Society. They committed mass genocide killing off natives who refused to convert to Christianity and demonized the local culture and this colonial legacy characterizes religion in Zimbabwe today. This is why religious relativism or progress is unheard of and most people are fundamentalists. There is no room for progress or evolution unless humanism and secularism is emphasized.
Jacobsen: What are the more effective mentoring strategies and development of community sensibility whilst retaining an independence mentality of autonomy and intellectual rigour in younger community members?
Mazwienduna: The most effective method would be to push for this conversation into the mainstream. The more people talk about it at a national level, the more the ideas become mainstream. Most Zimbabweans have never thought about secularism or humanism because they have never heard of it despite our efforts over the years.
Jacobsen: How should the shortness of life in all of our contexts make for a mentoring strategy incorporating of a sense of temporality, where temporality include the self, the larger communal self, and the legacy of those before and how one will become “the legacy of those before” too?
Mazwienduna: The shortness of life is for the most part a development issue particularly in Zimbabwe. 70% of the population lives in underdeveloped rural areas without adequate health facilities and dependant on communal farming, while the urban population has a higher life expectancy. This calls for us to value human development, particularly education, sustainability and health. It is a reminder that the human is the most important in any society and any idea should be given value in relation to how well it advances human wellbeing.
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.
Image Credit: Takudzwa Mazwienduna.