The Demographics and Transition to Humanism and Scepticism with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam): Founder, Jicho Jipya/Think Anew Tanzania
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We have been colleagues and friends for a decent amount of time now. I wanted to explore some of the irreligious youth community in Tanzania. What is the general picture for irreligious Tanzanian youth, i.e., the statistics and demography?
Nsajigwa: While the general statistics for chief religions in Tanzania (based on The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2009), they are:
· 35% Traditionalists
· 35% Muslims
· 30% Christians
It is understood (based on projections of 1960s) that a small percentage between 0.5 to 1 of the general population of adults above 18 years of any African nation are irreligious.
It gets complicated because many of that minority percentage are in the closet. Each (lonesome) one thinking s/he is alone, and has never met the like-minded! Two challenges emerge from this:
· One, there is a need to do research to comes out with current data.
· Two, the need to “unearth” these individuals and connect them.
Jacobsen: How much less religious are they than their parents and grandparents?
Nsajigwa: Hard to tell for now, specific statistics are needed; however, the forces of secularization, modern education, exposure/globalization, dialectic dynamics, and accompanying existentialist realities of constant transitions of modern life have been quite impactful, 50+ years since Uhuru, independence, of which the entrance of the internet (2000) has been a phenomenal game-changer.
Based on that, we could conjecture that irreligion has risen for this generation compared with those of the past, though research on that would be needed to confirm.
Jacobsen: How can Tanzania society move from the superstitions into the scientific worldview, and so modern education, rights, and technological movement?
Nsajigwa: The coming into being of Jichojipya Think Anew as an entity is the answer to that very question!
Thus, objects of Jichojipya includes to instil, inspire, and nurture book reading as a habit into a culture, the love of studying (rather than have phobia for) philosophy qua philosophy independent of theology, to nurture and develop Socratic elenchus — that is sceptic, inquisitive habit that question phenomenon — nature and man-made.
Also, To “Think Anew” in a rational empirical-based manner. To fight against abject poverty that makes people gullible when given hope to escape from it, encouragement of STEM — that is, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — from the grassroots.
Jichojipya is working hard to establish itself as an institution working for (and in defense of) the rise of rationalism, secularism, and humanism as an outlook (replacing superstition) in Tanzania. Man “is the centre”, measure of everything, as the dictum from Protagoras of ancient times stated; all the way to Renaissance age to our own Founding Father of the Nation popularly known as “Mwalimu”, a sage, teacher, who taught likewise. It is an ideal of the nation worth while for the youth to pursue.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time
Nsajigwa: Thanks back to you, you are welcome, Karibu.