On this Father’s day weekend

I want to write an ode to that man, my father, my teacher, my friend and my age-mate.

When I was born, or so I am told because I wasn’t there, in the sense of being cognition, my mother was still in college or had to go back to finish her studies and that is where the friendship began. The stories I hear are of him carrying me everywhere and all. I have not seen photos (maybe I should ask him for proof).

He was my teacher in every sense. You see, he taught in the school that I attended (just like mom) and his lessons started with training us on handwriting. Interestingly, my handwriting depending on the weather, has elements from both of them. But this is an appreciation post for dad.

In my repudiation or religion and questioning of cultural mores and norms, my father has been an inspiration. You see, when one an aunt of mine died at home, following the breakdown of her marriage, some of our uncles came and said, according to tradition, she couldn’t be buried in the home. He told them in no uncertain terms that they could wait for their sisters to die and bury them out of the home. His argument being that while my aunt was sick, she was living in the home, how would her death then mean she can’t be in the home and that was the end of the discussion.

On another occasion, on still cultural issues, when some of the villagers made a demand on him that he follows some practices, he told them unequivocally that he wasn’t consulted when these rules were made and as such, he is free to make his own. So yes, we try to make our own. Thanks to that man, my father.

My father has had a interesting relationship with the church. There are times he went regularly and times he seldom went. I can’t fault my parents for giving us religion. I think they had few options open to them given their fathers and grandfathers before had taken them to church, so it was only a matter of course that we too should go to church. Our conversation when I first told him of my atheism was to ask how I was going to teach my younger siblings about morality. To him, religion and morality were intertwined at the hip and it wasn’t possible to have morals and be irreligious, a legacy of Christianity, I think. At this point in time, I think he has made peace with my irreligion and I think he now knows his children and grandchildren need not go to church to be good members of the society, that religion is not the reason we are moral.

My father, he is a good man. The villagers can hardly go to him with gossip. If you are going to tell him so and so said anything about him or somebody else, be ready to say it in the presence of that person. Maybe he believes each person deserves a fair hearing before they are condemned.

Some of the hilarious moments I recall about spending time with my old man was when some fellow kept coming to him for money for tobacco, he told him he would buy him seeds so he has a continuous supply of leaves but this fellow didn’t want to do the hard work of waiting for his tobacco leaves. Or whenever someone inebriated came to see hi, his condition was they had to be in the same state of sobriety before they could have conversation. And this only meant one thing, you have to come back when sober.

Last year, my father threw a party to his friends. It was his 60th birthday and they were happy. For one, they were not going to a friend’s home to pass their last respects but to celebrate the joys of life. Some of my villagers were so happy that an old man (i think he qualifies to be old) can have a birthday party. It was a good time.

I wish him a long life and thank him for being that good man in our (my) lives.

I love him, my father, I do.

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In January 1905, a number of Russians

Made the following petition to the Tsar

  •  the right to vote;
  • freedom of speech, the press, and association;
  • freedom of conscience;
  • separation of Church and state;
  • equality before the law;
  • freedom to form trade unions;
  • the right to strike;
  • an eight-hour working day;
  • insurance benefits; and improved wages.
  • They also demanded an end to the Russo-Japanese War, especially after Russia’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the Japanese in 1904

These demands were made by socialists and workers


Something interesting in all radical and revolutionary work is the belief in the working classes to radically transform society for the greater benefit of everyone.

individual African’s religious commitments in line with philosophy as apriori

in one of my many interactions on twitter, I was presented with the challenge of writing my take on on individual African’s religious commitments in line with philosophy as apriori. 

Disclaimer: I am not a philosopher in the sense of having a technical training in philosophy, but I can philosophize (everyone is a philosopher) or so I tell myself. That while the challenge was to give my take, I will not limit myself to my own thoughts but will reference a few philosophical works I am familiar and finally, this can be filed under a work in progress subject to improvement or deletion.

Second, I give the genesis of this challenge or rather the context of this challenge. In his book, Trends in Contemporary African Philosophy, Odera Oruka notes

Philosophy is apriori and as such gains the liberty to evaluate science without losing its credibility as a discipline.

Which I think is limited only to the field of science and not religion. It is my considered opinion that philosophy was hijacked by the early church to defend its absurd position and to make absurd beliefs appear reasonable to a small elite that could not reconcile what they knew and talking donkeys or transporter fish or virgin births and resurrections of the dead.

Before we continue, we need to know what apriori means? Britanica defines it thus

priori knowledge, in Western philosophy (does apriori change with region? so we have a different meaning when we talk about Oriental philosophy?) since the time of Immanuel Kant, is one that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori knowledge, which derives from experience.

I a argue religious commitments, whether African or otherwise, cannot be apriori. I did not, for example, come to the belief in gods apriori but from deliberate effort from my parents at home and my school teachers during Christian religious (mis)education. In fact, I can confidently argue that if deliberate effort was not expended in giving us religion, we would be without one.

To make this point, I will reference two schools of thought; one represented by Samuel BAker that argues the African is without religion and the other by Mbiti who argues the African is religious in all things and point out in passing brief critics of either view. In Wiredu’s Blackwell Companion to African philosophy, Oladipo notes that to S. Baker,

Without exception, they are without a belief in a Supreme Being, neither have they any form of worship or idolatry; nor is the darkness of their minds enlightened even by a ray of superstition. The mind is as stagnant as the morass which forms its puny world.

the African has no religion. In response to which, Okot p’Bitek argued that such entho-geographers looked in the wrong places in their search for what constitutes African religion and philosophy. To him,

the oral traditions of a people, as expressed through their songs, dances, funeral dirges, and material culture,

are what constitute their philosophy of life. To get to the religion or philosophy of the African, one has to look at daily conduct of affairs. In looking for a metaphysics, these scholars were looking at the wrong places and are guilty of trying to impose certain ideas alien to specific situations where they don’t apply.

And in response to this negative thesis by Baker, John Mbiti, foremost among the apologists for African religion(I don’t agree with some of his works) responded thus

Because traditional religions permeate all departments of life, there is no formal distinction between the sacred and the secular, between the religious and the non-religious, between the spiritual and the  material areas of life. Wherever the African is, there is his religion: he carries it to the fields where he is sowing seeds or harvesting a new crop; he takes it with him to the beer party or to attend a funeral ceremony; and if he is educated, he takes religion with him to the examination room at school or in the
university; if he is a politician he takes it to the house of parliament.

Again, Bitek one of the foremost critics to Mbiti, in his pointed out that the absence of a word for ‘‘religion’’ in all African languages means that there is no special compartment that the African calls ‘‘religious’’ that is separate from the day-to-day participation in the life-process. 

Oladipo also argues that this argument by Mbiti is ‘‘uncritical assimilation’’ of Western conceptual categories in African religio-anthropological, and in some cases philosophical, scholarship. It is further argued that in African traditions, morality is worldly, that is, the people’s conception of what is right and wrong is a product of ‘‘their own moral perception or understanding or knowledge’ and has nothing to do with the gods there being no religious founders or edicts to be followed. It can be said African morality is practical and pragmatic.

In concluding this post, I posit this question by Okot p’Bitek (on christianity but I think applies to the other revealed Abrahamic religions)

How could a religion that has little practical value and also seems in some ways to encourage asceticism provide a philosophy of life for living in the African world?

On culture or culture wars

I stumbled upon this article and I have a few thoughts. But before I say my thoughts, we need to get a few things out of the way.

Culture has been defined as that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.

The author writes

They want to speak their native language, yet demand we accommodate them instead of learning ours too to integrate with us. They want only to have their own ways, never thinking they could embrace both our ways and their own. They want to use brute force and fear, rather than diplomacy to settle disputes. They want to treat their children as property as well, while we want to nurture them into becoming autonomous adults. This isn’t the whole of the matter, but many examples of how Western values and other values don’t quite mix as well… Many speak of a “culture war” between the West and many other 3rd world countries, and its true, we want one thing, they want another.

and first I laughed then I cried. The US is using fear around the world spreading democracy through the use of drones and fire power, but no, it is those going to the US of A who are using fear. Currently, there is an ongoing debate in the US of A around Roe Vs Wade and it is projected as fight on women’s bodies. I don’t for the life of me know what the good blogger is saying. And lest we forget, the FFRF exists specifically because in practice, the separation of state and church is lost on many Americans. She tells us western values and other values don’t mix. But what are these values?

It’s interesting that irony is lost to her. She accepts the cultural relativism thesis but then goes ahead to insist theirs is the only one that counts, that must count. There is no offer on her part to learn that of the other. Hers is the dominant one to be learned by force. Don’t you just love this!

She continues to write

People have given up the culture and language they were born into, lost everything just to come over to the West! Why?

and I am surprised things like colonialism didn’t reach her.

And we in the third world should be grateful because

Our science has lead to technologies, medical care, and progress that has decreased mortality rates across the board at all ages! We now can treat disease and illness.

as if there is American science of French science and African science. Knowledge is a product of the race. And maybe for her information, there are diseases that were unknown in some places until the white man showed up. As a cultural anthropologist, I think, a study of history is necessary.

Who knew that in America disease can’t kill you?

Compared to countries where slavery is still around, ethnic and cultural minorities and women are 3rd class citizens, a disease can kill you, infant mortality is sky high, people are slain for being “heretics”, dictators rule with an iron fist over the helpless people, corruption is rife, and so on and so on, Western values of democracy and equality and more technology to better people’s lives sounds a lot better for everyone!

There problem of death for apostasy happens in such places as Saudi Arabia which still remain bosom buddies of the US. Slavery happens mostly in Arabia. Dictators rule with support of armed forces and international partners from the west. And because she is a poor historian, some have been installed by the US after the overthrow of democratically elected governments. When it is in the third world, it’s corruption, but when it happens in the US, it is called lobbying or scandal like the Lori’s school admissions scandal. I am not saying we don’t die of disease, sometimes even preventable diseases or that we have governance problems, it is the ahistoricity in her claims that I contest.

There is a list of things you are not allowed to do, for example

  • We can’t impose our morality on them, yet they can on us when it’s convenient!
  • Even a more innocuous example, other cultures all over the world are allowed their own standards of beauty for men and women, yet we are criticized for having our own cultural ideal of beauty because that’s not “body positive”!
  • They can think freely whatever they want, and be defended by “cultural relativism” while our cultural ideas are scrutinized and nit picked to the max!

And honestly, I am lost. Who is this who is stopping Muricans from imposing their morality on others? My neighbour is asking what is American morality. I am even surprised Americans can no longer think freely what they want. These third world minions have crossed the line. They even police thoughts!

You have even been forced to tolerate the third world.

 Overall, the radical liberal snowflakes only have “tolerance” and relativism for what they pick and choose!

Who wants tolerance anyway?

And for further reading

 

Is it really the case

that

while i don’t and can’t speak for all atheists, I am an equal opportunity non believer and religious critic. I don’t care if one worships one god or a million of them. When I say miracles are impossible, it covers all miracles. It is not limited to Koranic or Biblical miracles only.

Come, let us reason together. No African Traditional believer has knocked on my door to preach. No wars have been fought because a voodoo specialist didn’t like how someone prayed.

When the Buddhists in Myanmar behave badly. We call them out. Or Hindoo nationalists in India, but one must realize these groups are so removed from my every day situations it would be a waste of brain cells to start a polemic against Lord Krishna when a polemic against the gods is sufficient.

I like the Mahabharata just the same way I like the book of Ecclesiastes and the book of Job. But when the bible talks of transporter fishes, or virgin births, I have to treat it as gossip of fools and lazy people.

If Abrahamic religionists want peace, they should follow the dictates of their books, like pray privately and each person to have their own religion and all. The moment you want to make your religion my business, expect push back.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

When one reads Mbithi’s African religion and philosophy, you get the idea among many of his claims that Africa was and is too religious. In fact, when I finished off the book, the thought that there would have been skeptics among our ancestors became so doubtful. So you can imagine the joy I found while reading Odera Oruka’s Trends in contemporary African Philosophy.

First, Paul Mboya, though not a skeptic had this to say

I believe God exists. But no one is capable of knowing what God is. Those who claim to do so are wrong.

Next, Muganda Okwako says

God talk is the gossip of the lazy. If god exists, he can only help god, not man(esp. the Africans). The black man should forget religious fanaticism and learn to try to achieve great things.

And finally, Njeru who said

I am not a Christian. Christianity I saw as the white man’s bluff, his witchcraft in Africa.