The government of Zambia has been urged to disallow a humanist meeting slated for October, 2019 in Lusaka. A Zambian, Chibesa Kalandwe 11, made a post on his Facebook page urging the country’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Guidance to ensure that this event did not go ahead. The post reads:
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Guidance should immediately and swiftly move into place and block this forthcoming gathering of atheists in Lusaka.
Zambia is a Christian nation, our constitution says so. Any group that attempts to operate outside the confines of that provision should face the full wrath of the law because it amounts to the subversion of the supreme provisions of the land.
This gathering of atheists if left unchecked will corrupt the morals of Zambian society that generally prophecies(sic) in the only true God.
As the bible says, ‘Only a fools says there is no God’, therefore we can not allow these fools to gather as they have planned.
Kalandwe made this post following a press release by the Humanists and Atheists of Zambia announcing their “Young Humanists First Ever Conference.” In Lusaka. Signed by Larry Tepa, the release noted that the event would help unite humanists in Zambia; the event would get atheists and other non religious persons to know that they were not alone. Tepa further noted that the event would be a great opportunity for like-minded people in Zambia to meet, interact and forge a sense of family and community.
So what is the justification for asking the government to stop the event? Zambia is a deeply religious country and is constitutionally regarded as a Christian religious state. At the same time, the country’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda articulated the idea of Zambian Humanism and tried to govern the country on the basis of humanist principles. The Zambia state has a humanist tradition.
Meanwhile the constitution of Zambia guarantees the rights of citizens to freedom of religion, belief and expression. And Kalandwe 11 exercised these rights by calling atheists fools! Convening an atheist gathering is also an exercise in human and constitutional rights.
Blocking the humanist meeting in October will be a flagrant violation of the constitution of Zambia and other international human rights conventions which the country is signatory to. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Guidance should ignore this misguided directive by a Christian fanatic who wants to fuel hatred and intolerance in Zambia.
There is no evidence at all that a gathering of atheists will corrupt the morals of the Zambian society. Instead allowing such a historic meeting will be an eloquent testimony of the thoughtful and enlightened morality in Zambia.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Guidance needs to prove to the world that it is not a Ministry of Religious Fanaticism and Hatred of Humanists and Atheists. The government has to demonstrate that it stands for an egalitarian society and wants to realize a Zambia where individuals of all faiths and none are treated equally before the law.
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.