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AAH Update

 Norm R. Allen, Jr.

The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 20, Number 3.

African 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.

The 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 witchcraft.

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.

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This page was last updated 02/10/2005

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