|Posted by masenofreethinkers on February 16, 2013 at 5:35 AM|
By George Ongere
( George Ongere is the Executive Director of CFI/ Kenya)
When I first became involved in Freethought activism here in Kenya, I thought it was one of the toughest and challenging task and that without proper strategy, then I would achieve little at the end. First, most people I began engaging at the innitial stages of my activism believed that Freethought was a hard topic and a subject that was to be left to the interllectuals and scholars who probably had the capacity to deal with it. Moreover, others believed that students who were in the philosophy classes were the best to engage because atleast they had touched on topics related freethought.
At that time, it found when I had read an articles in the daily newspaper that explained why the current young generation in Kenya did not like topics that involved them intellectually. The article explained that most systems of education that the current youth passed adopted curricullums that only made students to read for the purposes of passing exams and this did not give them the skills to read outside the curriculums for intellectual development. The article concluded that this was the best reason to explain why reading culture was dying amongst most kenyans. Finally, it ended with the saying, " If you want to hide something for Africans, put it in a book". So, I actually understood the problem and decided to approach it from a different angle.
If the current generation did not like reading for intellectual development, how then could I attract their attentions and develop the aspect of skepticism that could arouse a particular curosity for their intellectual growth? This was the question that I had to tackle and possibly find a solution for the advancement of Skepticism, Critical thinking, Science and humanists values amongs the youth, which I believe was the liberator in this twenty first century.
After brainstorming with the other enlightened few young minds who had grown their Freethought understanding, we concluded that the best way to involve the young minds was to organize programs that invovled them without not necessarilly making them to read books at such innitial stages. And here we came with the idea of starting some debating functions that included provocative topics that the young people would not avoid. Here, we started engaging community Youth organizations and consequently when we saw some positive responses, we decided to try involving the Oncampus groups.
The first start was involving the University of Nairobi and Kenya Polytechnic. We organized succesful debates and workshops at the two institutitutions and we were amazed by their success. And in 2009 when Leo Igwe, a reknown Nigerian Freethought activist and a former Director CFI/ Nigeria visited Kenya, we organized functions at University of Nairobi and Kenya polytechnic and the attendance was overwhelming.
Leo Igwe at the University of Nairobi
Leo Igwe at Kenya Polytechnic
These kind of success inspired us and we continued to advance the cause at these institutions of higher learning with the help of our Oncampus programs at the Center for Inquiry, that seeks to advance Reason, Science, reason, skepticism and Free Inquiry at the campuses.
We strengthned the University of Nairobi Humanists and Freethinking club and sponsored major workshops and debates.
University Of Nairobi Humanists and Freethinkers
Sponsored meeting at University of Nairobi by Center for Inquiry/ Kenya
With continual success, we began extending our activities to other universities outside Nairobi for this gave our approach a national outlook, and as such, we extended our activities to Moi University where we launched the Moi Freethinkers.
At Moi University with Moi Freethinkers
Afterwards, we extended our programs to Maseno University where we have the Maseno Freethinkers.
With the aspects of Freethought; which holds that we should form our opinions on the basis of logic, reason and empiricism, the only liberator to the young people capable of instilling elements of skepticism and critical thinking that we believe has the power to opens up minds for intellectual growth.
Being that Africa currently has various challenges that need people to think out of the box, skepticism and free inquiry is the right tool needed by the younger minds to tackle these challenges. And just like the yesterday African scholar was inspired by factors that alienated the African people from History, the driving force for the current scholars should be a particular way of thinking that should be away from the dictates of authority, traditions and religious dogmas that has continued to thwart knowledge and alienated the young generation from becoming issue based scholars. Let us free our minds and brains;- and the tool is freethought.
Onward Freethinking fellows!