How I Embraced Humanism - by Okoye Francis Chukwuebuka (Nigeria)
My journey of self discovery began in 2018. I happen to be a graduate of philosophy from one of the prestigious universities located in Ibadan, Nigeria, where I was introduced to the basics of ethics, critical thinking and science. A year before my graduation from school which was the same year that I embraced Humanism, I was strucked by two critical events in my life. The first was my journey out of the religious setting and the second was my journey into Humanism.
Testimony: A Blinded Reality
I grew up in a family where religion was the central idea behind our daily living. We chewed religion, enjoyed it and served it to others. My parents were faithful Catholics and they always made sure I was taken to Church, made to believe and accept all that was taught. As fundamental as religion was to my family, I never questioned my beliefs. I was also never allowed to voice out my opinions openly. Dad was a civil servant who had a blended personality likened to that of the military man, and that fact made me subtle and loyal. I only tolerated quietly anything that came my way.
Few years later, I saw myself gaining admission into the seminary in the hope that I become a Catholic priest. Now, it was already a decision that I become one because the family was already involved and whatever decision the family made always remained final. I shall now explain the gory experiences I had in the seminary and why I choose reason over faith.
There in the seminary, I would write in the confines of my cubicle how I wanted to be free from the injustices perpetrated there. I would not also forget the so many unpleasant events which varied from secrecy, suspicion, corruption, sloth and finally to clique formation. Nothing seemed clear. Although, there were rectors and formators you hardly can tell or distinguish which one of them was on your side. It was just a nasty experience living under this condition. We also had some group of young men who exercised power over the vulnerable. They chose to call themselves the “Happy Sinners.” It is a system of cliquism whereby power is being acted out by the strong over the weak. Among them were men who wouldn’t care less about their choices of cassocks, wristwatches and gadgets. Men who were broken, power hungry and rich.
As regards my stance on religion, it shouldn’t be a matter of debate whether or not my lack of believe in any religious institution is due to my pride and hate for it. Never! I have thoughtfully studied religion, also engaged in philosophical and theological discourses, attended symposiums, public lectures and seminars and found NOTHING. Religion blindfolds the views and opinions of people. It preys on their human weaknesses and robs them of their humanity. Sadly, when it robs them of their humanity, it therefore cages their intellectual and mental growth. People need to voice out their opinions and views about life else, they remain mechanical and controlled beings. A religion that fails to explain or give account for the reasons behind oppression, poverty, killings, and injustices is not my religion.
On Humanism: Compassion over Dogmas
I am now a humanist and a happy one for that matter. This has enabled me to be open about my views and also share them with people. I now find time to engage students in discussions ranging from ethics, arguments and critical thinking, philosophy, geography, and science here in Nigeria. I also learn, exchange ideas, socialize, and interact with my fellow Humanist . As a humanist, my views about life has changed positively. Life as we see it to be is an enormous gift that should be enriched and it is also important for one to choose a path. I have chosen humanism over faith and it is a humanism that is free from cultural myths, superstition, stereotypes, fear, and indoctrination.
Humanism remains the most human philosophy for it deals with human compassion and love. If my acceptance of humanism is for the betterment of the society, then I choose to remain with it.