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.
Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) is a pioneer in the freethought movement in Tanzania. Our conversations spanned a wide set of topics.
The nonbelieving community in Tanzania is small. Somewhere between ½ to 1 percent of the total population, it is as much as 16% of the global population. The non-religious dominate the landscape.
When I queried Nsajigwa about the hardships in a small community, he exclaimed, “Yes! Very difficult most of the time. It is hard to reason logically with believers as they have a sense of self-assurance thinking they are right just by using their holy books (however most haven’t read the whole of). I developed solitude aspect of life, book reading on philosophy, comparative religions, world history, psychology, sociology, and culture gave me the only company. Libraries became my sanctuary place. A lonely person that became used to this life.”
Life in solitude. It pertains to stance in living, of the mind, apart from others out of necessity. He works hard in this solitude, especially with the difficulty in the development and maintenance of relationships in the Tanzanian context.
Hi greatest emotional struggled, which relayed to me, is the endurance in spite of the hardships. He views himself as a Stoic philosopher. He feels misunderstood. He knows some things he cannot change. He understands being born in a particular context, at a point time, in the history of a country.
He feels ostracized as if Spinoza. That he never committed anything against the law or humanity, even until the present, but continues to bear the burden.
“Over years people realized I am just a mentally normal person, possible just more enlightened by book reading, plus a rationalist, ever curious questioning reality to try to seek answers,” Nsajigwa explained, “Second going to mid-1990s when multiparty came back to Tanzania, I was rounded by Police just because of the high level of discussion I had with my freethinker brother in a public bus while Tour-guiding a visitor. A plain policeman happened to be on that bus.”
Freethought as a public call for a crime. He was in town three days later. He got rounded up and hauled away in a cab and sent to the police station. He was searched and the locked up.
Here is a test for equality: does this happen to the religious in Tanzania? If so, does this happen at the same rate?
Often, as with North America, the situation is imbalanced. Nsajigwa continued, “They didn’t find anything in our bags, even a march box or a piece of cigarette, non-smokers. They found instead books on Philosophy and comparative religions. Nevertheless, they locked us without ourselves knowing what the charges were. When our Guarantor came late he could not believe what they wrote as our crime, theft of shoes!”
If one cannot be charged for a crime, then a crime will be found, whether real or imaginary – in this case real with shoes (though a false claim about a reality). They were held for about a week. Nsajigwa is a victim of being a freethinker, which amounts to an imaginary crime.
He is a criminal in light of thinking apart from the religious authorities. There was another time, where a community would stand together. However, the non-religious in Tanzania are left bereft of deep community due to fear and low numbers.
A lonesome youth, he was interacting with a professor of history. They talked a good long while.
Then Nsajigwa reported, “He told me I am so impressed that you know all these things by your book reading habit but now realize this, just by being that, you have become dangerous, your very knowing will annoy so many people. This bitter truth shocked me innocently, I only came to understand it along the way, a freethinkers life journey, what an odyssey!”
This becomes the life path for many freethinkers around the world. He felt lucky to meet a few fellow likeminded freethinkers in Tanzania. Those moments are times of relief of the trials and tribulations of life for one of Tanzania’s founders of its freethought movement, at least the public one – for its 0.5 to 1 percent.
Other conversations here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. He talks here with Scott Douglas Jacobsen who founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. Nsajigwa’s contact emails: [email protected] & [email protected]
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