Norm R. Allen, Jr.
The following article is from the Secular
Humanist Bulletin, Volume 20, Number 3.
humanist groups, in conjunction with the International Humanist and Ethical
Union (IHEU), hosted conferences in Uganda and Nigeria in late May and early
June, respectively. From May 20 to 24, the International Humanist and the
Ethical Youth Organization (IHEYO) held a conference in Kampala, Uganda. The
theme was “Humanism for Global Peace and Social Justice.”
It was encouraging to see young humanists from such nations
as Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, and
many others. Their discussions dealt with progressive concerns such as the
search for global peace and social justice, feeding the hungry, combatting AIDS,
and reproductive rights.
Most of those in attendance were members of humanist groups
at colleges and universities. Many of the young African humanists have e-mail
accounts and mobile phones. They have been in constant touch with African
Americans for Humanism as a result of the contacts made during the conferences.
The Council for Secular Humanism provides them with reading materials,
leadership advice, computers, and so forth.
On May 25 and 26, the IHEU and the Uganda Humanists
Association (UHASSO) cohosted a conference with the theme “Humanist Visions for
Africa.” Presenters addressed such issues as environmental sustainability,
democracy, human rights, debt and globalization, gay rights, and women’s
sexuality. UHASSO has published a commemorative newsletter on the conference.
African Humanist Alliance—informally hosted by the Council—was formalized at the
Uganda conference. Thanks in large part to the Council, there are now groups in
Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia, Guinea, and
other African nations. Under the able leadership of UHASSO chairman Deogratiasi
Ssekitooleko, Leo Igwe of the Center for Inquiry–Nigeria, and Yemi
Johnson, public information officer of the African Humanist Alliance, the future
of humanism in Africa is bright. African humanist leaders are attracting
attention throughout the continent.
On June 1 and 2, humanists met to commemorate the tenth
anniversary of the death of Tai Solarin, an outspoken secular humanist,
educator, and pro-democracy activist. Humanists gathered at the famed Mayflower
School in Ikenne Nigeria. In 1956, Solarin founded it as the only secular school
in Nigeria, and it is still one of the best schools in the nation. Topics at the
event included the underdevelopment of Africa by religion, freethought on
Nigerian campuses, combating superstition and religious intolerance, and
The topics of witch killings and faith healing were among
the most popular. Recently, the Center for Inquiry–Nigeria received
coverage in one of Nigeria’s leading newspapers, the Vanguard. The Center
had issued a response to the ritual killings that are currently plaguing Nigeria
and appealed to the Nigerian police to investigate all shrines throughout the
nation in a serious effort to put an end to the killings.
“We enjoin all Nigerians to abandon pseudoscience and
embrace science, to leave occultic ‘non-sense’ and cultivate rational inquiry,
critical thinking, and technological intelligence, so that Nigeria can grow,”
said Igwe. The center is on a mission to promote secularism and critical
thinking and to combat the deadlier aspects of rationality. They are
distributing 10,000 copies of a brochure calling for an end to ritual killings.
Humanism in Africa is on the move!
Norm R. Allen, Jr., is the executive director of African Americans for
Humanism Online Library