Leo Igwe: Towards A Skeptical Awakening In Mozambique

Leo Igwe: Towards A Skeptical Awakening In Mozambique [MUST READ]

By City Editor | The Trent on March 2, 2018
Part of the stakeholder meeting on people living with Albinism in Harare today. | Zimbabwe Albino Association (ZIMAS)
Where are the skeptics in Mozambique? Where are the critical thinking persons in this country and what are they doing? Going by the statistics out there, Mozambique is one of the most irreligious nations in Africa. According to the 2007 census, about 20 percent of the population has no religion. However, it seems that the non-religiosity in this country ends there, in identifying as not holding any religious beliefs. In fact, there isn’t much to show for the nation’s non-religiosity. No irreligious activity or event such as a conference or campaign! No perspective or viewpoint is visible in the media. Skeptics, atheists, and humanists in this country have been passive, and their passivity is hurting the nation. The time to end this skeptical slumber has come!
This is because, apart from the state, there is virtually no other agency in Mozambique that is effectively fighting superstition. No other organization is holding religious extremists to account. And this development does not reflect positively on the not-religious in the country.
From recent reports, the state in Mozambique is championing alone the cause of fighting superstition and irrational beliefs. While this is in the order-the state ought to be at the forefront of combating superstitions-there should be other non-state actors, active skeptical, rationalist, atheist or humanist individuals and organizations that are engaged in this area, supporting and sustaining the fight. There should be non-religious agencies complementing the efforts of the government. Active secular organizations should be involved in dispelling irrational beliefs, checking superstition/religion-based abuses that are harming the people of Mozambique.

Take for instance the recent case where people attacked traders and farmers for tying the rain, blaming them for drought in the country. It was only the government that intervened. State officials reportedly dismissed the allegations as false and baseless stating that the phenomenon did not exist. It was the state police that came forward and issued a warning after the murder of five bald-headed men in the provinces. The murder was motivated by the superstitious idea that the head contained gold. It was also police in Mozambique that arrested a self-acclaimed prophet for holding seventeen children captive. This prophet recruited children and indoctrinated them using the Bible. He instructed them to disobey their parents and avoid worldly things such as schools and televisions, which he described as satanic.


The police have been tackling albino and witch killings in the country. They are trying to dispel cognate superstitions and irrational beliefs.
Unfortunately, the voices and contributions of skeptics and rationalists in Mozambique have been missing in these efforts and initiatives. There have been no references to the positions of skeptics in the country. No mention is made of any program that skeptical activists staged to educate Mozambicans on this issue.
The fight against superstition and religious extremism should not be left alone to the government. It is a collective challenge that requires collective efforts. To this end, it is pertinent to ask: Where are the skeptical teachers in Mozambique and what are they doing to enlighten the children and youths in the country? Where are the country’s secular intellectuals, writers, scholars, and philosophers? Why are they not engaging in public debates and discussions of these irrational beliefs? Why is the non-religious community not speaking out openly and publicly against these abuses?
The need for skeptical activism in Mozambique cannot be over-emphasized. So why are there no skeptical groups organizing events to enlighten the people? Why are skeptics and rationalists in Mozambique mute? Why are they maintaining a deafening silence while superstition is ravaging the country? Why are they indifferent to issues that they should robustly engage? The information that 20 percent of people in Mozambique have no religion is not fake statistics. Is it?
The time to break the silence is now. Arise skeptics in Mozambique.

Leo Igwe is a human rights activist and the founder of the Nigerian Humanist Movement. He was the Western and Southern African representative to IHEU, the International Humanist and Ethical Union. He can be reached by email HERE

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.


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