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An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More


Author: By Nsajigwa I.Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) with Lucas A. Isakwisa

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: March 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 7,830

ISSN 2369-6885


Welcome one and all…we are members of Jichojipya – Think Anew, an organisation with the Educational objects of popularizing philosophy in a fearless – freethinking line, aiming to have positive impact of enlightenment to the society through rationalistic, logic, empirically-based secular values…

We work to identify, unearth and connect freethinkers…be they Secularists, Rationalists, Sceptics and Humanists…those living without a religion in Swahili “Maadili bila dini”. We are the group that interviewed philosophical-wise the late eminent Elder Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru, who came out as an independent thinker and a freethinker, contrary to what the people had been assuming about him. It was a rare occasion then, as it is now, as we interview yet another eminent individual, an Emeritus Professor whose life-stance is like that of Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru, a nonbeliever in the same line as Okot p’Bitek – that university lecturer and writer in 1960s to 1970s of books “Song of Lawino and Okol”, “African religions in western scholarship”, and “Towards Africa’s cultural revolution”. Okot p’Bitek came out as such, a nonbeliever from East Africa, same way as Wole Soyinka, a lecturer too and Africa’s first winner of Nobel Prize for literature (1986), a writer of “Trial of Brother Jero”, native from West Africa. Is it possible to live good without religion..? Let us follow this interview to find that out.

And now we have another Eminent Individual, an academician, emeritus Prof. Alex L Mwakikoti, a Tanzanian. It is our Jichojipya-Think Anew honor, pleasure and privilege…Welcome Mwalimu Mwakikoti

Keywords: Alex L. Mwakikoti, Dar es Salaam, Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge, Lucas A. Isakwisa, Nsajigwa I. Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam), Tanzania.

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Please note the casual, at times, language style and use are intended to be kept within the content sent.*

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing

The main interviewer and the Founder of Jicho Jipya – Think Anew, Nsajigwa I. Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam), with Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti holding Living Without Religion by the late Paul Kurtz.

1) (a) Hon. Sir, you are a Freethinker, what is an independent thinker? and a freethinker?
(b) How did you become an independent thinker and eventually a freethinker? What circumstances caused someone like you to be a freethinker, and at what age did you become a freethinker? Let us hear the story of that aspect of your life.
More so, of all categories of freethinkers & nonbelievers (Agnostic, Atheists, Ethical-Culturist, Humanist, Secular Humanist, Sceptic, Rationalist, Materialist, etc.) what name “tag” explains best about you and why is that?

Professor A Mwakikoti: Strictly speaking, I can say an independent thinker is one who is not influenced by anything in the process of thinking about issues; the rationalization is based on child-like inquiries arise because of curiosity. Unfortunately, that innocence of child-like questioning slowly disappears as we grow up because our mental capacity of thinking is modified by the social norms in cultures where we find ourselves. A freethinker, to my estimation, is someone who, after being affected by societal norms on how to think about issues, begins to retreat to child-like thinking with complete freedom of asking questions that the social norms may suggest as dangerous or should not be asked. Because by now the individual is mature, there is nothing that stops that freedom of asking as well as seeking answers to questions that would otherwise be stopped. Today, a freethinker is therefore associated with other connotations such as Atheists, Humanists and the like.

My journey to becoming an independent thinker and eventually a freethinker was a process. It did not happen at one time and space. Indulge me to give you a brief story. I am a product of a Lutheran Church Evangelist, Yehoswa Mwakikoti. He was a devoted person who evangelized a large area in Udzungwa region in Iringa, Tanzania. Growing up, I came to emulate my father in most of the things he did. People predicted that I would become a preacher like him. I was baptized when I was young, and after I was confirmed (known as mature independent Christian at about 13) I started asking questions about some stories in the Bible. I enjoyed them, but it seemed to me that some of them were too scary and I became more fearful of God’s punishment for those who did not obey him. After completing my primary school education, I started asking the accuracy of the Bible stories as taught by the Lutheran Church, and so in 1968, I decided to leave the Lutheran Church, but did not know which church I would join. After independently studying the Bible, I decided that instead of resting on Sunday, I would rest on Saturday as a Sabbath. I later came to realize that there were people called Seventh-day Adventists who practiced that teaching. It became natural for me to join them. Upon completing secondary education, an American missionary asked if I would volunteer to start a Seventh-day Adventist church in Mufindi, Iringa, and he promised he would send me to college. I did, and the missionary kept his promise. I went to a two-year college diploma in Uganda, came back to Tanzania and worked as a pastor in Lindi and Temeke in Dar es Salaam. Later, I went to complete my bachelor’s degree in theology at Newbold College in England. I did not want to stop with a bachelor’s degree; I decided to find a way to fund myself and continue with higher education. It was not until I was studying for my master’s degree in religion in the United States, when my questioning was further rekindled and a new serge for why of the bible and bible figures grew sharper. As I said before, I cannot pinpoint the date of my “conversion” to a non-believer, but I can say after completing my Ph.D. is Sociology, more questions arose, especially when I learned that it was a society that created religion, and not religion that created society. Eventually, in 2007, I detached from all religions, calling myself a Humanist. You can say I became a freethinker and a Humanist when I was at the height of my career as a Professor of sociology and communication.

Jichojipya – Think Anew team response: You have reminded us of late elder Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru, on the interview we had with him (google-search “Discussion with a Tanzanian eminent public figure who happened to be a freethinker”). He said the same thing that it was on reading books by Thomas Paine and especially Ludwig Feuerbach (its English translation called the Essence of Christianity) that made him became awakened to that reality that ahaa…so it was the society that created the gods…!

2) What is your experience of being a freethinker and independent thinker? Have you lived a lonely and isolated life…? are you alone? Mentally okay…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: As a freethinker and independent thinker, I noticed how lonely I was. Most of my friends were and are strong religious people, and some of the members of my family, especially my wife, who is an assiduous devoted Christian. I remember having a tearful talk with her when I decided to become an open freethinker. The Bible taught that people of different faith should not be married; how will we live our life together after this fact? We decided each of us to follow our different path of beliefs, and yet to stay married. Such union has its challenges. Currently, I do not feel like a loner freethinker. With the current technology, the Internet has brought information and links of groups of every kind, including freethinkers’ groups. It was through the Internet that I came to learn the existence of Atheist groups. I was extremely pleased when I connected with Nsajigwa Mwasokwa and learned that it was possible to officially start freethinker’s organization in Tanzania, to which I take pride for being part in the formation process. I am no longer alone, and my mental and emotional capacity and social relationships with fellow freethinkers is better than when I started my journey.

Jichojipya-Think Anew response: Professor, are you talking about this very Nsajigwa here or another one…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti…I am talking about this very one here…our own Nsajigwa…in fact for the record, he has been a pioneer for his generation and for Freethinking. If you search on the internet for information about freethinkers in Tanzania, Nsajigwa will be the top name to come up. I first met him after I googled for freethinkers in Tanzania. We, Tanzanian freethinkers, are proud of Nsajigwa, our own…!

3) How did the circle of academicians of which you belonged accepted you as a Freethinker – academically, socially, religiously…? any stigma…?

We are aware you are part of Jichojipya – Think anew, tell us how you became a part of that and what has been your experience, and how do you see its work so far and prospects for the future…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: I came to learn years later, that the University of Texas at Arlington, where I taught earlier had a chapter of Atheists; had I known, I would have become an active member there. Academicians, especially in the United States, accepts individuals irrespective of their religious or non-religious affiliations. This is part of the US constitution that prohibits discriminatory policies in all organizations including educational institutions. It is true that you can socially feel outcast in the circles of religious events; but many universities separate those events from the institutional functions just as there is a separation of church and state. But when I taught in a religiously affiliated institution (Wiley College), there was a pull to become part of the religious practice (even though, they did not force any one to do so) as it would be against the established government regulations. I remember at one time the college Chaplain asked me to participate in a devotional discussion at the college assembly. When I told her that I was not affiliated to any religion, she still asked me to say something, because she said, “many students and faculty respect you very much.” I accepted her request, and being a theologian by training, I decided to select a subject from the Bible, “the truth will set you free” for my presentation. She later said she was pleased to have such discussion that many in religious circles do not think much about—Using child-like thinking and questioning everything to arrive to the truth. When in a religious related institution, a freethinker must find a way of using the opportunity to talk about how we arrive at the truth. I remember after that talk, two students came to me and said they were also non-believers and were astounded that I was too.

As I said, it was while I was wondering and searching in the internet to find if there were any freethinkers in Tanzania, that I bumped into Nsajigwa Mwasokwa. After a brief correspondence, I decided I would meet with him when I am in Tanzania . . . the rest of the story is; we are now here together. As you can conceivably imagine, soon after our meeting, I told him that we need to have the organization up and running. My experience of being a member of Jicho Jipya – Think Anew has been a thrill. No organization is free from challenges; but such challenges usually make people think. As far as what the organization has done thus far, I believe it has achieved noble progress, but more so, I am looking forward to what I believe together, we can accomplish as an organization. You see, as a Humanist, I envision that we, as an organization, can provide what is missing in our society. Education, a practical one that empowers people, especially young people to become productive in society—especially by becoming entrepreneurs in various fields. Therefore, I think while we begin with baby-steps, our vision should be to reach the sky of progress. I envision we can be able to create communities that are self-sufficient by first starting with our own organization that can be wealth producing and self-sufficient providing aids to the needy in a multiplicity of ways, such as education, health, finances, and in other areas. It is, therefore, imperative for us to draw a map of where we want to be in five, ten, twenty and fifty years from now

4) (a) Hon Sir, as an eminent Tanzanian academician of sociology…did you ever had a chance to know in person and interact with Founder-father Mwalimu J.K Nyerere? (b)What about this that when Mwalimu Nyerere said (in one of his speeches) if we choose a non-believer as Tanzanian President, we shall have to find other non-religious arrangements of swearing in such a person, without Bible or Koran…What’s your take on that…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Unfortunately, I never had a chance to personally meet and interact with Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere. I have read some of his writings, watched his clips and listened to his speeches. I am always astonished on how inclusive he was on freethinking and his vision for the future of Tanzania and Tanzanians. For example, his famous statement that should we choose a non-believer in Tanzania as President, we shall have to find other non-religious arrangement of swearing in such a person. To me, this is a clear indication of how forward-thinking and pragmatic about the possibility of where Tanzania could eventually find herself in the future. Voicing such statements is a clear indication of a great visionary and wise statesman.

Jichojipya – Think Anew response: But Sir, do you see yourself as someone influenced by Mwalimu Nyerere’s philosophy and teachings…?
Prof. A Mwakikoti… Oh, especially on his notion about education, which is in line with the Latin American thinker Paulo Freire as in his book Pedagogy of the oppressed. He said that education should not be just theoretical, it must be practical at the same time. It should not be an education for education’s own sake.

(c) Where else, if outside those books, would someone a freethinker nonbeliever gets his/her moral ideals based on…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: As one who was deeply in religious circles, I can categorically say that the so-called religious books, such as the Bible, do not necessarily provide moral ideals where one can base on. How do you explain, for example, the morality of forcing someone to worship you and if you don’t, get punished? How do you force love on someone, for example, is that moral? How do you punish or kill someone who has not done anything wrong, but on behalf of someone who wronged? Leave alone the un imaginary story of killings that are rampant in those “holy” books as sanctioned by a god? Is that moral? Or, how do we define moral ideals? From personal experience, I can attest that it was after I came out of religion did, I find it is possible, and natural to be ‘good’ without a god. Doing good freely without a reward or fear of punishment. True love is found where it is expressed freely without strings attached.

(d) Although the people of Tanzania as Africans are “notoriously religious”, (to use the phrase of Late Prof. John Mbiti) however Tanzania state is “secular” by its constitution thus supposedly its practice. As a freethinker Yourself, please give us your analysis how far is that true de facto…?
Do you think there was and still there is perhaps anyhow, somehow, religious overspill sometimes on state governance affairs?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Although at the first glance I think Professor John Mbiti over simplified the reality of Africans thinking since Africans had the notion of some type of faith traditions, they were ‘notoriously religious.’ He may have been right on one aspect that certain principles are transmitted from one generation to another whether religious principles or not—that is the natural societal dynamics. Yet, you cannot lump all such transmission as ‘religious. Societies consciously create religion through a notorious charismatic leader to perpetuate their messages (whether they are self-made or thought of as sent to them divinely). Mbiti’s notion of Africans as notoriously religious must have been a way to refute the main mission of the Westerners coming to Africa to evangelize non-religious people. Once a tradition or religion is created by society and is transmitted from one generation to another, it definitely can overspill to any societal institutional including state governments. After all, governments are products of society just as religions are.

(e) Your thought Sir on Prayer for the National assembly – “Dua la kuliombea Bunge ritual” also National anthem as on both, “God” is mentioned while in fact, the Nation is secular, not a theocracy. How is that…? (is it not a contradiction…?)

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Many societies, including the so-called freest nation of the United States of America, have struggled when it comes to the ritual of praying or the inclusion of “God” in their national anthems as is the case of oaths. I personally believe it is because of the dynamics of society. Most members of society are not critical thinkers—it takes energy to become one. Instead, they take things for granted without asking questions about the traditions they follow. This is where the paradox lies—are we truly secular or theocracy? Whether it be in Tanzania or in the United States of America, to me this is a clear contradiction.

Jichojipya – Think Anew: Yes, even Mwalimu Nyerere once talked about this too. He saw it as a “contradiction” when we say our country is secular yet our national anthem mentioning god…!

5) As a freethinker Sir, for a very long time, what has been the good side of being so? And may be what had been the hurdles, challenges…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: As a Freethinker, I like to view things from the perspective of fairness and freedom. While it has not been that long, I enjoy being personally accountable of the decisions I make, not being afraid of a being somewhere who may reward or punish me for my ‘thoughts and actions’. Likewise, I do not blame the “Devil” for making me do it; I personally make my decisions, good or bad. This state of mind has made me free indeed. This is the good part of being a freethinker. I am not afraid of hellfire. The hurdles for me is having a believing spouse. I sometimes have to think before I do certain things so as not to unreasonably hurt her. Again, as a Humanist Freethinker, I have to think about others in my decisions. Sometimes this can lead to making compromises. For example, when having visitors and my wife, for example, asks to stand up and close our eyes to pray for food; even though I may not close my eyes, I may respectively stand up. Such has been my practice to those organizations I belong to or visits who begin their meetings with prayer.

6) From independent thinking to freethinking perspective, 50 years of Uhuru, how do you foresee the future of Tanzania and Africa in terms of Liberty and better life?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Liberty and a better life are what people make. The 50 years of Tanzania’s independence should be the beginning of a reflective and plan for the next 50 years of how Africa and Tanzania, in particular, should be. Mwalimu J K Nyerere paved a way in many ways, the Presidents that have followed have done what was best at the time. It is high time in Tanzania and in many African countries to think more of what the leaders want their nations to be in fifty years to come – not each in their own leadership term. Such consideration should include economic, education, reduction of poverty, social welfare and others. Tanzania and many African nations are so rich with natural resources, and manpower enough to manufacture their own goods to supply in almost every need and export many to other countries. There is absolutely no reason for them to continue seeking aids from other countries—they should be providing aids to them. With sufficiency in the economy and in other aspects, liberty and a better life are inevitable.

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More 2 Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing

Mount Kilimanjaro.

7) What is your opinion as an independent thinker and a freethinker on the failure of Tanzania and Africa in general to industrialize? And what is your view on Mwalimu Nyerere’s kujitegemea, self-reliance teaching?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: I think Tanzania and other African countries are on the road to industrialization. It is important to look back and learn why we have not industrialized in our fifty years of independence. Some say this is a very short period when you, for example, you compare to the United States of America in their over 250 years of independence. But one should consider this, how fast did the spread of cellphone communication take? We did not say, let’s follow the traditional time-span it took the USA to establish their telecommunication, we jumped into it (I remember then coming to Tanzania to find some Tanzanians having already mobile-phones before many living in the USA!). Things should go fast today. We have the manpower, we have the raw materials, we have tools to extract raw materials from our wealth, why should it take many years. I believe it is a matter of changing our mode of the thinking process. When that is done, industrialization will come fast. I conceive self-reliance learning and teaching by JICHO JIPYA as an organization could be one of the hallmarks of reaching out to bring about change to our societies that will reflect the forward thinking of Mwalimu Nyerere and other strong political leaders of governments.

(b) Multiplications of “Dark age attitude” is seen in believes in magic, superstitions, miracles, witchcraft, “Freemasonry”, “juju” to influence winning soccer games and even the killing of people based on such beliefs. Does it imply those efforts on free education including “Ngumbaru” Adult education to fight against “enemy ignorance” have all been in vain…? and if so, where did we go wrong or rather get it wrong…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: All these beliefs whether they are ‘dark age attitude’ magic, superstitions, miracles, witchcraft, and others, I consider them to be lack of education. In Tanzania, I think, the fight for ignorance cannot be said to have been in vain, rather, we could say it has not been balanced. The question of ‘what should education address?’ should critically be investigated by the institutions that are responsible for it. For a long time, and most recently, education has followed the traditional colonial streams that have not provided adequate solutions to our society or to our students. For example, what is the use of having so many colleges and universities in Tanzania when many of them are providing the same traditional curricular leading to overpopulated learners of the same and without employment? We should critically rethink the needs of Tanzania for five years, ten years and even twenty years or more from now when deciding on the curricular of our schools. Our young people should not complete their degrees and begin searching for questionable and illegal types of employment. We should provide an environment where diverse types of employment have been carefully forecast and studied years before they complete education. This calls for critical thinking by all concerned organizations in Tanzania and JICHO JIPYA should champion in this process. If we go back for a moment on adult education (reading and writing), adult education needed to be and should be progressive. Not only knowing how to read and write but applying to everyday living. This too, requires an answer to the question, ‘adult education—to what end’? A response to this question will lead to progressive and meaningful education; furthermore, all forms of education should free us from superstitious beliefs into critical and analytical thinking.

8) As a freethinker, what is your advice to young Freethinkers, can freethinkers play any positive role in society? How? Can they be a vehicle to re-educate against such “dark age mentality” a’ la irrationality…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Generally young people are the best change agents is society. My advice to young freethinkers is to be pragmatic in their everyday life. They should be role models by continually learning about everything and providing rational thinking in every situation they find themselves. I believe this can create a vehicle of re-educating the society against all the irrational ill thinking about everyday life happenstances including “dark-age mentality”. We are fortunate in Tanzania and in many other societies to have energetic young people who are in leadership positions all walks of life. We should use such opportunity, not to preach or convert people to our thinking mode; but rather, we should live a life that others will want to emulate as they see how successful we are.

9) In your opinion as a freethinker, is “blame game’ to the west still relevant? Is it valid to continue blaming colonialists (as Pan Africanist constantly do) for Africa’s underdevelopment, 50+ years after UHURU – Self-governance? How effective is that? For an antidote, Mwalimu Nyerere suggested kujitegemea – self-reliance ideal…why even that seems so difficult to pursue and attain in post-colonial Africa…? what needs to be done…? Which way forward between Pan Africanism’s constant blame game vs Mwalimu Nyerere’s kujitegemea, Self-reliance on the other-side…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: A ‘blame game’ or rather, an excuse for development and growth that is cast toward the west is, in my assessment, an irrational one to a large extent. We have gone fifty and beyond years of independence in Tanzania and many other African countries. No Pan Africanist should hide under the umbrella of blame game anymore. Prior to independence and soon after that, it seemed understandable to blame the west. At present, we should blame ourselves for not strategically analyzing what we want to accomplish as Africans in our countries. Mwalimu Nyerere conceived it right, that we entered an era of ‘kujitegemea’ self-reliance, whereby our future is no longer decided by the west, rather, we create our own wealth and distribute it according to the projected developmental needs of our Nation. It amazes me that at present (2019), we still have a sizeable percentage of our national budget based on what we expect as donations from the west in forms of loans and gifts. Where does any rational thinking individual budget their personal income to include a percentage that uncles, relatives, and passerby individuals will donate to balance the monthly expenditure? Never. Organizations, and especially JICHO JIPYA should set standards, paving the way to live like adults in the room by being financially independent and stop the now unpopular blame.

10) What is your opinion on the issue of cultural revival? Do you think as for now local languages (say Kihehe) should be allowed and used as vehicles of communication together with Kiswahili and English to even get broadcast in Radio and TV without “fear” covered in a fallacy that doing so is to encourage “tribalism”?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: I am a proponent of local cultural tourism, and as such, I think local languages should remain active and preserve the dynamic of local cultures. It is of no surprise that there are words in every language that can hardly be translated into Kiswahili or into English or in any other language without losing the true meaning of it because of they’re culturally specific. As such, languages should have a place in the communication of all aspects including broadcast to preserve cultures. If we venerate individuals who encourage nationalism and remain open to other nations, why shouldn’t tribalism be encouraged at the same time allowing a positive interaction with other tribes? In my opinion, tribalism is only negative when it engenders ethnocentrism into it; that is, measuring all other tribes using the yardstick of one’s own tribe. This is another example of those concepts that are handed from generation to the next and are taken as rules without asking hard questions about their legitimacy.

Jichojipya Think Anew response: And what about this dilemma that it is said the teaching of English is making it difficult for Tanzanian students at secondary to higher levels all the way to colleges and universities to grasp the gist of education, it is being claimed that had it been through Kiswahili may be things could have been better..?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Yes, the challenge is there that several Tanzanian students that cannot express themselves adequately, concisely by speaking or writing via English. The fact is, other Nations like Mexico, Arab countries and those in Asia are using their local languages and English as well. I think there is a need for balance in using both languages. We cannot use only Kiswahili and isolate ourselves from international interaction. Experts tell us that kids can learn effectively up to 10 languages simultaneously, so it is a question of emphasis we adults put on. It comes down to the question of how languages are taught.

Jichojipya – Think Anew response: Yes, in one of his speeches of 1990s, Founder Father Mwalimu Nyerere talking about the subject said we are blessed to have both Swahili…our own Kiswahili – The National language and the “Kiswahili of the world” – implying English adding that, we must learn, study to master and use both simultaneously. So, it is true that the question could be on our own teaching methodology.

11) In Tanzania, very few individuals are known to be open non-believers (and this is the essence of finding out to know and document such individuals – Henry Odera Oruka-like project back then) …are there others like you that you knew or still know? and do you interlink with other fellow freethinkers worldwide? (Mzee Kingunge said he was alone even in the company of his “comrades” the Marxists – a Marxian by dialectic approach himself, but never a Marxist as many of his comrades thought him to be…!)

Prof. A Mwakikoti: I know a few people especially in the United States of America who I link and interact with once in a while. A couple of non-believers where I have an active membership include Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), and American Humanist Association, both based in the USA. Through my membership, I receive monthly publications and I have attended some of their annual conferences. I think it is very important to research, for example in Tanzania, to know Atheists in the nation, notwithstanding the fact that in the census, Mwalimu Nyerere said there was no need for asking people their religion; saying it was the work of those religious leaders to know their believers. But then, is this a valid reason? What harm could such information be to the Nation if that question is asked? Nonetheless, JICHO JIPYA could devise its own research to collect data useful for other reasonable purposes in society. Jicho Jipya has started a link to reach out to those that maybe freethinkers. By interacting with people in other organizations, such as human rights, we might find freethinkers there. When we find them, we should devise ways of continuing interacting as family members by using such means as WhatsApp, occasional face to face meetings, et cetera. We can learn so much from others, whether they be long-term freethinkers, or new freethinkers.

12) As a Freethinker what is your advice on how to promote Science and Technology from both formal and informal sectors?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Science and Technology and other aspects of education for the benefit of the country should be critically studied and then, from strategic planning, evaluate where they fit in that long-term planning. Education should be for the benefit of society, not just for education’s sake. I mean, any meaningful education should have a plan of how it will benefit society, both to a student as well as to the society at large. Without critical investigation and planning, society may end up graduating students in the same disciplines and not getting hired or empowering graduates to become entrepreneurs. Education of any kind should be pragmatic, and learners should know its practical application from the moment they set foot on their educational journey. Moreover, unused education upon graduation, is a waste of resources, worse than the uneducated. Specifically, Science and Technology is the game of the day, we cannot leave without it and it should be promoted. And you are right, this promotion should be applied to both formal and informal sectors. Science and Technology in the formal sector, should be pragmatic with aspiration for further discovery through research. But it is also noteworthy to say that there are many young Tanzanians with inborn-ingenuity who have low education and or never went to school at all. Amazingly, these young people have discovered various types of things many of us are unaware of. A good example is our own member of the Jicho Jipya, Mr. Ntubanga Beleng’anyi – who built a working a car galimoto from scratch. Such individuals should be given incentive and encouragement to continue in their creativity.

13) On your opinion as a Freethinker, do you think there is a need to have villages that incubate and support science and technology, like it was for that highly successful Isansa village at Mbozi for cooperative farming and animal husbandry then, a “Silicon-valley like” for Tanzania? Or as per ideas of late Prof. Shayo who had been dreaming to have such one…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: I am less familiar with the project of Isansa village in Mbozi, but the general idea of incubation and support of science and technology is a critical one. But even before that; one should ask the question as to why we need science and technology—to what end results? Have we done any feasibility studies that if we educate a thousand of young people, a certain percentage will be hired in given industries that we know for certain we have that need, and another percentage will begin their own businesses in science and technology? If we have not gathered any data, then why should we move blindly into such education? We live in a technological age where it is possible to find out possible outcome on almost anything before investing our energy and money into it.

Jichojipya Think Anew response: Isansa was a village that Mwalimu Nyerere was proud of, seeing it is a modal community that envisaged his ideas/ideals for a successful & prosperous Ujamaa village, done on self-reliance and cooperation basis. It was in Mbozi District in Mbeya Region.

14) Sir, Books are said to be the nutrients of the brain, as a freethinker, what are your suggestions on what can be done to promote book reading habit to become a culture in Tanzania, beyond reading for passing examinations? And at a personal level, what book, which one or two inspired you to be a fearless independent minded that you came to be…?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Indeed, reading habits are cultivated and do not come automatically. It could be my assumption, but I think Tanzanians read quite a bit. Today, there are several ways one can read many books with easy. The habit of reading books mostly by young people seem to be disappearing in many societies, and yet, it is through reading books that we learn more about a variety of things in society. If reading books sounds a boredom activity, one can listen to audio books while performing other tasks such as walking or driving. On a personal level, the Bible is one of the books that pushed me out of Christianity. Seriously. The contradictions that are found there can be enough to push one out of faith. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens, and Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart D. Ehrman, were my first books to read and brought about a great relief from my years of struggle in Christianity. Henceforth, I have read several books from a number of great authors. Reading books is comforting, it builds up and helps clarify many questions that a Freethinker always seeks answers from.

Jichojipya – Think Anew response: This here is a book that late elder Kingunge told us when he read it, he discovered who created the gods…human beings…it’s by Ludwig Feuerbach Essence of Christianity, it reads at the back thus, “Did God create man? Or did man create god”?

15) What is your comment on the theory of evolution, The Origin of Species on the book by Charles Darwin?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: I personally think evolution and the origin of species as described by Charles Darwin makes more sense than the speculative beliefs without science, such as the existence of a god. By the way, as a sociologist and a nonbeliever, I subscribe to the fact that man-made gods in many societies in their own images.

16) (As a freethinker do you think it is important to study comparative religions despite the fact that you are a non-believer yourself?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Studying comparative religion, in my approximation, is a sound concept if you are an analyst and or a debater on religions. Such knowledge helps to understand people and their beliefs better, leading to better awareness as you comprehend their perspectives. Even when I was a pastor, I encouraged members to read and know other religions—but my motive then was to learn how to debate and defeat people from other religions or denominations. I do not regret my journey that took me into theological education. Looking back, I know it helped me question religion and Christianity even more. Moreover, studying different religions helps in understanding their followers better, and in turn, succors in communicating with them.

17) As a freethinker, what are your comment on “hero-worship”? When shall we start being “Students” of Mwalimu (and good one at that!) instead of continuing being ritual disciples – Meaning how should we look on Mwalimu philosophically, critically, instead of, as it seems now, as a political saint to be Canonized, “Mtawa”?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Freethinkers are to always approach anything with a critical mind. When we venerate individuals to a state of worshiping them, we are no different from those who created all these gods in their societies. Great leaders should be respected and modeled after when we analyze and see what they have contributed to our learning, so is the case of someone like President Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere. With great respect I have for Mwalimu Nyerere, he was apt to making mistakes and he admitted it. While he is commendable for the great accomplishment he did in our country, Tanzania, we should study and analyze those things that we can emulate and toss away those we know are no longer applicable to our society today; or perhaps, leave them in museums.

Jichojipya – Think Anew response: Yes, Mwalimu Nyerere by his various teachings through speeches and writings showed that society is dynamic, it must keep changing to meet new challenges. He even advised the church back in 1970s to be open to new ideas for social changes, saying development meant rebellion – his 1970 speech: “The church and society” delivered to the Maryknoll sisters conference, New York USA). He himself initiated several major social changes. There is no point in “dogmatizing” Mwalimu, he was progressive and versatile.

18) (a) Now basing on your experience of lifetime as a freethinker, when facing life crisis people with religions go to seek solace, consolation or counseling in churches or mosques or traditional healers and even diviners. Now for you a non-believer, where do you go for that? Is it not a heavy burden for you? How have you managed to cope with that solitude throughout and remain sane?

(b) And as a Freethinker, do you think it is a good idea for a freethinker to write a will so that he/she should not be buried with religious rituals, but be laid to rest just as they lived his/her freethinker’s life?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: Fortunately, even when I was a Christian, I never considered going to someone or organization for consolation, even though I would ask if others needed my assistance in when facing situations that required solace and counseling. I confided my concerns to a few friends, many of whom turned away from me when I rotated to be a freethinker. I have been asked a close related question as to what preparations I need to do before facing death, especially that I am an unbeliever. It really does not bother me, because I believe this is the only life I have, there is not any after life.

I think a freethinker should write a will to reduce the apprehension family members may encounter, wondering what to do with you after you die, even if your will may not be taken seriously by those who remain, especially if they themselves are believers. If they do not want to follow my suggestions, let them do what they please, it will not change who I am. After all, I will be dead.

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More 3 Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing

Jicho Jipya – Think Anew Logo.

Jichojipya-Think Anew response: There is a need for freethinkers to start meeting and socializing from time to time, this will overcome the lonesome isolationism that each one experience. The late elder Kingunge advised us to do exactly that. We must build a community of freethinkers supporting one another as human animal social being. More so there is an idea of introducing Humanist Celebrants here, it will give alternative to those individuals (Freethinkers and anyone else) who would prefer to do civil marriage backed by a non-religious celebration. Same as coming out celebration (alternative to church baptism) for ones’ kids. And if one left a written will for burial, it is indeed possible to be born, grow up, live, marry, get old, die and be buried without a religion or its strings attachments. The Freethinkers though few in this society, need to start a community for that now. The Late Elder Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru in fact, advised us to start meeting regularly, from time to time. That now stands as “wosia” – his final & parting word to us.

19) Okay, finally for today, you have lived a long life as a freethinker non-religious person, what is the “secret” for your living such long and useful life? Any last word you would want to say that can empower freethinking ‘young Africans’ to learn from you . . . Warrior for the life of ‘living without religion’?

Prof. A Mwakikoti: First, about ten years as a Freethinker is not a long time. But for this short time of being a Freethinker, I am very grateful I became. I found freedom in being a Freethinker, freedom from being controlled as a “slave” of religion for about fifty years. Secret? I do not know if there is one. But I know that living oneself in the fullest fearless life is one way of being a successful Freethinker. Avoid feeling the need to convert others to your fold, rather, live a good life without god, and others will seek you out and find more about who you are and what you believe. As I said before, young people are the champion of social change, they should devise their own personal ways of running their critical thinking freethinker’s ways of approaching life happenstances.

                                      THANK YOU VERY MUCH PROF. ALEX MWAKIKOTI

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More 4 Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing

Galimoto’kali car.

We feel honoured and privileged to have this rare philosophical based interview with you Emeritus Professor, the same way, same degree, same depth we had with late elder eminent Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru. Thank you so much sir.

Please, follow up Jichojipya-Think Anew on our social media sites, as we work to identify, unearth and connect Tanzanian freethinkers. These rare individuals who have self-studied, helped by book reading habit, to have figured out and came out of the closet to tell and show society that, it is indeed possible to live ethical good life as Eupraxsophers…that is Rationalists, Empiricists, Modernists, Secularists, Humanists without supernaturality including that of religion. Thank you all. Next interview coming soon. Its Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) and Lucas A Isakwisa for jichojipya-Think Anew.

Books that have accompany this interview: (1) Eupraxsophy – Living without religion by Paul Kurtz,
(2) Tanzania 1977 constitution of 2005, (3) Essence of Christianity by Ludwig Feuerbach.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Teacher, Historian, Lawyer, and an Advocate of the High Court in Tanzania; Founder, JichoJipya.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 8, 2019:

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Mwasokwa I, Isakwisa A An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More [Online].March 2019; 1(A). Available from:

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Mwasokwa, N. I., Isakwisa, L. A. (2019, March 8). An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and MoreRetrieved from

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): MWASOKWA, N.I.; ISAKWISA, L.A., An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More African Freethinker. 1.A, March. 2019. <>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Mwasokwa, N.I., Lucas A. Isakwisa, Isakwisa. 2019. “An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More.African Freethinker. 1.A.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Mwasokwa, N.I., Lucas A. Isakwisa “An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More.African Freethinker. 1.A (March 2019).

Harvard: Mwasokwa, N. I. and Isakwisa, L. A. 2019, ‘An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More, African Freethinker, vol. 1.A. Available from: <>.

Harvard, Australian: Mwasokwa, NI & Isakwisa, LA 2019, ‘An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More, African Freethinker, vol. 1.A.,

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Mwasokwa, N. I. and Isakwisa, L. A. “An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More.” African Freethinker 1.A (2019):March. 2019. Web. <>.

Vancouver/ICMJE:Mwasokwa NI and Isakwisa LA An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More [Internet]. (2019, March; 1(A). Available from:

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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