Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam), who is now 53-years-old male from Tanzania who is leading a community and who, founded Jichojipya (meaning with new eye) to “Think Anew”. He is the Founder of Jicho Jipya/Think Anew Tanzania. We have talked before about freethought in Tanzania. Here we talk about atheist thinkers in Tanzania and atheist thinkers and literature.
Tanzania is an interesting country with an intriguing dynamic with the belief system landscape. The non-religious are a marginal or peripheral community within the country. However, there have been prominent, e.g. Kingunge Ngombale-Mwilu – though deceased as of February of this year, public figures who were freethinkers or even atheists.
Those who did not adhere to the central tenets of the faith. This provides a context for understanding some of the differential dynamics compared to, for example, the majority of the Good Men Project readership, insofar as I can discern, who live in North America.
The atheist and freethinking community will undergo severe and minor negative treatment in the public. The view of the African community, according to Nsajigwa, is a community outlook. One based on shared values and solidarity of community with an expectation of conformity of all people in it, of all members residing in the community.
The idea, Nsajigwa stated, is that “things should be done as traditions and what religions require. On religion itself, it is very influential, plus our political culture is illiberal, yes we are a peaceful Nation since independence but skepticism and criticism are not tolerated despite the fact we became a multiparty democracy since 1992.”
In the law, I asked about some of the anti-atheist biases, which may or may not exist. He said, “The founder father Mwalimu Nyerere was, fortunately, a good student of John Stuart Mills philosophy “on liberty”. He made it clear the fact that our Nation is secular though people (including himself) are in religions.”
“There is a temptation though from various players to wish that religion should penetrate more into government because people and their leaders are religious anyway. In Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous government with a majority of its population (90%+) being Moslem, Islamic laws applies (via what are known as kadhi courts) in dealing with matters of inheritance, marriage, and divorce,” Nsajiwa continued.
When I concluded this particular session, querying for potential feelings or thoughts, Nsajigwa talked about the modern world. Our modern cultures and societies with the need to provide an education with an emphasis on the STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – professions. Jichojipya, or Think Anew, is part of this process.
The process of respect for the power of and responsibility that comes from that power of science. A science grounded and guided by a humanistic ethic, a secular humanistic and scientific outlook on the world. Nsajigwa directed attention to the need to eliminate the superstitions that lead to even the murders of Albino people because they are Albino.
“There is modern African triple heritage concept by which in Tanzanian case, Islam, Christian, and Traditionalists are almost one-third each by percentage (35-35-30 respectively), though there is much dominance of the first two in the public while the third (tradition believes) are somehow dormant, activated only when everything else fails to work,” Nsajigwa explained.
He described how many countries are illiberal in Africa. That independent thinking and freethinking are thwarted, where these people suffer lives of hard psychological, physical, and emotional strain because they lack religion. Because they are athests and freethinkers. Full stop. Period. Exclamation point.
Freethinking, atheism, and humanism in Africa are intended to be a means by which to emancipate Africans from illiberal thought and religious fundamentalism.
“[They are the] mental slavery of religions that have evolved to become dysfunctional, as they shape ideas of superstition and wishful thinking that support dogma, irrationality, and fatalism,” Nsajigwa stated, “It’s a herculean task needed to be met to push the cause of African renaissance and its enlightenment. All due support by Freethinkers Humanists from other parts of the world (Canada etc) is needed, to sustain this work for modernism by secularism in Africa, Tanzania inclusively. That is the historic generational duty for humanity.”
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