Moninuola Komolafe on irreligion, politics, and the Nigerian Youth
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the state of young people’s irreligion where you live?
Komolafe: Growing but largely closeted because the consequences can be severe for some. I have a number of young unbelievers who are feigning faith so they can have a roof over their heads or continue to enjoy their parent’s financial support. However, with online communities, both the openly irreligious and the anonymous ones have a breathing space.
Jacobsen: Is there a big divide between the religiosity of the older generations and the younger generations?
Komolafe: Yes, there is. Although it seems as though the irreligious are still a minority, social media discussions have shown me that young people are asking questions and that they are not swallowing bible stories or consider religious topics sacred. It is not uncommon to find young people who are just cultural Christians and I think that if it wasn’t for the backlash or fear of hell for some, we would have more young people shedding faith
Jacobsen: How does the religion influence politics and social affairs, and the political process such as elections there?
Komolafe: Religion is infused into almost every aspect of the Nigerian society and has been a hindrance in fighting issues such as inequality. How do you make laws that establish equality between the sexes when the lawmakers believe that women are not equal to men because their religious books teach that the man is the head and the woman is to submit to the man? How do you protect young girls from underage marriage when you have Muslim lawmakers who can wave their religious books and claim divine permission for such? Gay marriage is also forbidden on the same grounds.
With regards to elections, all a politician needs is to get the support of a major church leader and he can secure their votes. The question of his competency or suitability is discarded because a certain general overseer has approved him. Religion is everywhere and it is a menace that needs to be checked.
Jacobsen: What can the younger generations do to join together to reduce the level of religiosity in the country, increase the level of reason, and secularize the nation in general?
Komolafe: We need to bring up more discussions about religion both online and offline, establish forums where religion is questioned. I am part of a Whatsapp group called Believers and Skeptics where we have members invite religious people and skeptics alike to ‘defend’ their beliefs. We have had a few religious people leave their faiths based on group discussions. I believe that having similar groups spring up will definitely play some role in reducing religiosity.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Moninuola.