By Viola Namyalo (AfWG Chair, YHI) and Scott Jacobsen (VP, YHI)
What are humanist ceremonies?
For one to understand these ceremonies, it is important to understand what humanism is and who humanists are, as they exist in many societies in the world. Although, humanists may not be a major player in the world of life stances. Their core values can be seen in many dominant religions and life stances
What is Humanism? Who are humanists?
Humanism is a tradition based on reasoning. It is founded on the ethic of the wellbeing of every human being in the world. Humanism focuses on humanity and human interests. It implies thinking for yourself, doing your own thing, and accepting the results. In short, a respect for personal autonomy and an expectation of personal, and social, responsibility.
Its bases are anti-dogma if not non-dogmatic. It doesn’t believe statements without evidence. It does not impose beliefs or laws on people. Its emphasis is on reason and evidence. In part, this can explain the basis for humanists rejecting the supernatural, e.g. gods, angels, devils, and so on. In other words, humanism as a philosophy rejects the supernatural in all forms.
Since humanists don’t subscribe to the religious ideology, they celebrate their occasions including weddings ceremonies, funeral ceremonies, baby naming and all other celebrations in a secular manner.
The reason for this is humanists believe in the importance of celebrations without the supernatural. These ceremonies are known as Humanist Ceremonies. They are officiated or celebrated by humanist celebrants.
Humanist celebrants serve to provide humanists with a joyous and memorable ceremony. Humanist Ceremonies are unique because they are constructed with the wants of people in mind. These ceremonies can be celebrated in various venues including beaches, hotels, forest parks, and many more depending on the desires of the individuals planning the ceremony or event.
Do we have humanist ceremonies in Africa?
The good news, African humanists have had several humanist ceremonies. African had several wedding ceremonies in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. We have had one humanist funeral in Uganda. The reactions have been consistently positive; hence, we are hoping for more.
We have humanist celebrants in more than ten countries in Africa including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Sierra Leone. Thanks to the Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability (HALEA) and their partners, including Humanist Society Scotland, for letting this happen for us.
Humanist marriages are not legal in Africa at present. However, different organizations in different African Countries are struggling to do this. The Humanist Association for leadership Equity and Accountability (HALEA) is in the struggle to legalize humanist marriages in Uganda. You can follow them on Facebook at humanist ceremonies Uganda to be update on events and activities.
The future of humanist ceremonies remains promising, especially with the number of humanists in Africa growing following the disappointments of adherents to formal religions. No doubt, humanist ceremonies promote humanism further through enabling humanists to put humanism more into practice.
We remain optimistic and hopeful of the further introduction of humanist ceremonies in Africa and its diaspora, where many skeptical people will embrace humanism. This is a trust in the power of the values of humanism to change the relationships of human beings to one another without the magical while keeping the wonder alive.