Leo Igwe writes in Modern Ghana:
“Ghana is one of the most religious nations on earth, it is also a beacon of hope for humanism and freethought in the region. The image of a deeply religious Ghana is not as entrenched as pollsters project. A humanist and freethinking Ghana exists and is slowly and solidly emerging. A skeptical and rational Ghana is a social fact.”
Here we feature the first of a series of guest posts by Mr Andy C. Y. Kwawukume that we hope you will enjoy.
This is something I wrote way back in Sept. 1997 during a debate generated on an African-American created forum about the genealogy or descent of black people, the complexion of Jesus, some blacks (African-Americans and the Falasha Jews of Ethiopia) claiming to be Jews/Israelites, or whatever.
Humanists put great value on how we treat others, our ability to care for others, make ethical judgements (decisions which assess the consequences of our actions), and the freedom to decide our own purpose and meaning in life. All these rely on our ability to reason.
Reason is the ability to think clearly and logically, to verify facts, and then to change or modify ourselves, our attitudes, traditions or institutions, based on that information. Reason is a form of freedom that prevents us being chained to beliefs or habits by prompting us to continually ask questions and examine our lives. Read More…
Your family talks about it and forces you to pray with them from an early age. You are taken to the church or mosque and even your respected school teachers appear to believe in a god. We even see the President praying!
All around you people are continually repeating their beliefs and appear to have personal emotional experiences. You are told, or you assume, your doubts, or lack of experiences, are because you are not ‘spiritually mature’. Why assume everyone else’s personal experiences must be real because they seem to believe in them so fervently? Read More…
The following article from the New Statesman, Is it harder to “come out” as an atheist if you’re black?, includes an interview with two Nigerian atheists living in London. It shows it is even difficult to be an African atheist in the UK where religion plays a relatively small role and where religion is more of a private matter.
To be open about one’s non-belief in Ghana can have serious consequences with regards to relationships with family and friends and can negatively affect one’s advancement in society. The Humanist Society of Ghana aims to support people who wish to be open about their non-belief or to help them meet other non-believers.
“…As far as his friends and family were concerned, “It was like claiming I was a demon or a devil.” He says it is still causing problems within his family, and this shows how difficult it is to become an atheist from a background where religion is everything. He stresses that for many black people, “Religion is woven into the whole texture of your life. It’s everything. It’s reality…part of your identity.” “
Modern Ghana published an article by Leo Igwe on the situation in the North of Ghana:
“…The structures of witch hunting are still very active and functional. Witchcraft accusation is still a form of death sentence, a reason to kill, torture, murder, lynch, abandon and exile children and elderly persons from their homes.
I will illustrate this using some of my research cases from Northern Ghana. This region of Ghana is enchanted with witchcraft and other magical beliefs. More importantly this region has what they call the ‘witch camps’. For me the term, ‘witch camp’ is an incorrect way of describing this traditional structure.”
The BBC reports:
Local leaders in northern Ghana have announced the abolition of the ritual killing of babies born with physical disabilities, who were believed to have been possessed by evil spirits.
“Spirit children” were thought to have been a sign of impending misfortune and given a poisonous drink to kill them.
One campaigner told the BBC that improved healthcare and education meant such beliefs were becoming less common.
This post is the personal opinion of the author and may not reflect the views of the Humanist Association of Ghana.
Professor Osei’s presentation at the International Humanist Conference in Accra, 2012 entitled The Relevance of Secular Humanism to the Contemporary African Society asserted that the Western construct of Humanism is bringing excessive individualism to Africa in opposition to its traditional values of communalism. Professor Osei also said we need to think about the issue of LGBT rights within this context.
To find a distinctly African expression of humanism sounds like an attractive project, yet the assertion has also been bothering me. I have been pondering on these issues since that presentation and hope I may have found a resolution to the apparent conflict. Read More…