Leo Igwe was speaking at a Workshop on Humanism at the University of Cape Coast to explore the opportunities for the International Humanist Ethical Union to work with activists and universities in Ghana.
He began by referring to Ghana’s humanist heritage – Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah was a humanist:
And he exemplified his humanism in his dogged fight against colonialism and imperialism, particularly in leading Ghana to become the first Sub Saharan African nation to gain independence in 1957.
Listen to what he has to say about humanism in Africa . “The African personality is itself defined by a cluster of humanist principles which underlie the traditional African society.”
Nkrumah said it loud and clear that “Fear created the gods, and fear preserves them, fear in bygone ages of wars, pestilence, earthquakes and nature gone berserk, fear of acts of God. Fear today of the equally blind forces of backwardness and rapacious capital .
And touched on more recent developments:
In the 80s Ghanaian humanist, Hope Tawiah, started the Rational Center ….when there were few people who appreciated rational thinking and action. I hope more Ghanaian humanists will come forward and ensure that the Rational Center of Humanism in Ghana holds.
He went on to warn that African attachment to religion has restricted progress (this as the head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique says he believes some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately) and prolonged conflict:
Instead the legacy of the presence of traditional (animist) Africa, Arabic (Islamic) Africa and Euro (Christian) Africa is still that of chaos, conflict, alienation and stagnation. And there is no African country where these Dark Age forces are wrecking more havoc than in my country Nigeria . Since independence, thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives to religious bloodletting orchestrated by fanatics who want to bring the nation under the rule of their religion, not our reason. Religious fundamentalists want Nigeria to be governed by archaic, anachronistic and antediluvian laws and norms based on outdated holy books called the Bible and Koran.
…Today many Nigerian students spend more time praying, fasting, fellowshipping and babbling meaningless syllables than they do reading, studying and researching for their exams. Since I arrived the University of Cape Coast I have noticed the ubiquitous presence of Pentecostalism on the campus. And I found that worrisome. I hope those who value academic freedom, critical thinking, intellectual culture and free inquiry will work to checkmate the corrupting, corrosive, darkening and destructive influence of transcendental illusion, Christian hogwash and penticostal nonsense on this campus before it is too late
He also spoke about how “Humanist individuals and groups in Australia and Belgium have been supporting Liberian refugees in Ghana” and how “the Center for Inquiry and the African Americans for Humanism (AAH) have been working with and supporting many Ghanaian scholars and activists”.
In conclusion he urged Ghanain universities to begin teaching humanism:
I want every student at the Department to make it a point of duty not to graduate until s/he has taken a course on ‘the most human philosophy of life’. If the department does not offer a course on Humanism, I urge them to start it now. If you have no books I will help get you some; if you have some books, I will help you get you more.