Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) founded Jichojipya (meaning with new eye) to “Think Anew”. We have talked before about freethought in Tanzania. He is a pioneer freethinker in Tanzania and has trained in Tanzania and Japan in farming, cultural tourism, youth development from the grassroots, worked as a tour guide, in teaching, in translation from English to Swahili and vice versa, and in the incubation and mentorship of the youth. Here we continue the discussion, other conversations here, here, here, and here, and here, here, here, here, and here.
When Nsajigwa talks about religion in Tanzania, there is a context. There are surrounding countries. There are rules and roles implied. Rules for the community. Roles for men; roles for women. All people bound by a holy book.
Or more properly, they remain bound by different holy books. I noted the bad parts of religion. He replied, “By religion, we should include African’s own traditional beliefs. Now Tanzania borders with 8 countries. Yes, the negatives jump across borders notable witchcraft believe from Zambia in the past, to kill young girls and flay to get the human skin. Albino killing from here got exported to Rwanda, Burundi, and Malawi.”
The killing of people without pigment or albinos. The belief in witchcraft and flaying of young girls in order to acquire skin. Think about that.
He talked more about the rather “glamorous flamboyant” preaching pastors. They are called pastorpreneurs. They are all the way from Nigeria, West Africa. It is particularly bad in Uganda. The Pentecostals evolved their influences in Uganda and Nigeria.
Often, these pastors are male. They are highly masculine in traditional ways. In other words, mostly these male pastorpreneurs lead the congregations and hold the highest authority and power in the church community.
Nsajigwa talked about politics and said, “In politics, consulting traditional medicine men during campaigns for election, rampant here got exported elsewhere. President is God’s choice, a fallacy that lingers except now in Kenya the high court annulled the results. So that brings contradiction, has God erred this time..?”
Another bad part of politics comes from the enforcement of a religious-based myth and fallacy. That the president is “Rais ni chaguo la mungu” or literally God’s choice. You heard it. The Tanzanian president is argued as the choice of the creator of the universe. This is anti-secularism.
An admixture of religion and politics in an unhealthy way. People, according to the UN Charter, have the freedom of belief, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion. However, the world works towards secularism, where politics and religion are separate.
Where these freedoms to (and from) belief and religion are exercised apart from the legal and political sphere, this is one of the non-secular forces’ unhealthy manifestations. Not only this, there is an erasure of history as well.
There is a sense of “historicism” as well. Where people are believing things, things which never happened before. That is, the idea by implication that such changes cannot even happen in the first place.
There is a belief in kismet. It is a sense of fatalism. “Fatalism that everything is God’s will even to accidents caused by reckless driving. Circles of killings to flay humans for skin, killing the bald-headed all the way to Albino,” Nsajigwa explained, “Hitting people on the head and use the iron rod split with blood to hang on butcher’s shops to “attract” customers, killing people with disability who are seemingly successful or influential.”
Another continuation of the former problem is the gullibility of people with the pastorpreneurs. Followers are raised thinking prayer can cure disease. Some people have prayers in order to pass higher level examinations.
It amounts to wishful thinking: pray more or study more. Some, apparently, will choose prayer. “There are advertisements for a cure to enhance love magical-wise, also by “Doctors” (diviners) about making one get rich quick, in some cases telling clients to bring parts of human bodies to enhance the combinations,” Nsajigwa said.
There is a culture of blaming an owl, as a messenger of a bad omen. The Christian faith makes people hate snakes because the snake is seen as a literal form of Satan. Swahili, according to Nsajigwa, is a neo-Islamic culture with the belief in jinns or the Islamic versions of demons.
The reason for the conceptual overlap with Christianity is the largely plagiarized formation of the holy texts of Islam from Christianity and, in turn, of Christianity from Judaism. “Furthermore, people believe literally in the miracle of virgin birth, and in the resurrection (in Swahili “Msukule”),” Nsajigwa explained further.
“There is a misinterpretation of recurrence of incidence in a particular area if accidents happen from time to time in a place, there has to be a vampire kind of ghost there. Just recently people believed there was a big tree that cried with a human voice, oozed blood while being cut to make way for road expansion,” Nsjigwa described, “The work had to stop to the next day and when eventually it was cut down with many people witnessing afar, its branches suddenly became antidote medicine to cure anything. People believe these things in the 21st century of science, computer, internet, and technology!”
As Kurt Vonnegut said, “So it goes.”
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