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The reasons why Africans are the most religious people in the world are not far fetched. Africans go through religious indoctrination from cradle to grave. Africans are not allowed by family, society and the state to think, reason or live outside the religious box. In Africa religion is by force not by choice. Religion is by compulsion and not according to one’s conscience. Africans are brought up to believe that there is NO alternative to religion, when in fact there is. So in Africa, either you are religious or you are nobody – you are not a human being, you are nothing. There is too much social and political pressure on Africans to be religious and to remain religious. The social, political and sometimes economic price of leaving religion, renouncing religion or criticizing religion is so high.
Africans profess all sorts of religious crap even when they know it is all nonsense.
At home, religious indoctrination is the first form of orientation an African child receives. At a very early and impressionable age, infants are taught to recite meaningless syllables called prayers. Children are brainwashed by parents with various religious and spiritual myths. Their minds are infused with all sorts of religious dogmas. Parents ensure that children are brought up in their faith – the faith of the family and the faith of their parents. Children are taught to believe and follow, and not to question religious teachings even when there is every reason to do so.
African children are brought up to believe them and to swallow them hook , line and sinker. Not to question one’s family religion is seen as virtuous and as a mark of a good child. This religious tradition is upheld and handed down unchallenged from one generation to another in Africa.
The religious brainwashing continues in schools. Most African colleges are religious indoctrination centers. Western missionaries and Arab jihadists brought formal education(the model widely used today) to the continent. They established schools to win converts and recruit new members, not really to educate Africans. So schools in Africa are covert churches and mosques. Education is faith based. And this religious tradition is still upheld in most schools across the continent.
In Muslim schools, children are made to recite that they are Muslim children; that they believe in Allah and Mohammed as his messenger. What do you expect from these children as adults after going through this religious drilling and being brainwashed by superstitious messages? Do you think they will ever grow up to say that religion – in this case Islam – is not important in their lives? As in their homes, African students are taught to blindly accept the so-called divine revelations without question. They are induced to try and have some encounter with God or to have some spiritual experience as a manifestation of faith or piety. Children and youths are made to believe that professing articles of faith is a mark of a good student, and that education is not complete without religion or belief in God. So why should anybody be surprised that most Africans attach so much importance to religion?
Lastly Africans are deeply religious due to lack of human rights, particularly religious freedom in Africa. This may sound like a contradiction, but it is not. Some may argue that the high religiosity in Africa should be due to ‘too much religious freedom’. No, it is not so. Rather it is due to no guarantee of religious freedom, no protection of freedom of conscience. Africans do not enjoy or exercise their freedom of religion or belief. Africans are denied this basic human right with impunity by state and non state actors. Africans are forced to be religious or to remain religious. That is why they are ‘too religious’. The mechanisms to protect and defend the full human rights of those who change their religion or renounce or criticize religious beliefs or those do not profess any religion at all are weak or non-existent.
Religious believers and non believers are not equal before the law. Many Africans are religious because they don’t want to be in the minority. They don’t want to renounce what the majority upholds. They don’t want to denounce what the state or society reveres. Many Africans are religious because they just want to play along.
By Leo Igwe – Executive Secretary, Nigerian Humanists
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