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Interview with David Osei — Ghanaian Freethinker and Humanist

2022-12-17

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/28

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If you take a critical look at early life, what was a moment of leaning more towards the freethinking view of the world?

David Osei:
 When my mother died, I began to ask myself so many questions. Questions like, “If God loves us so much, why must we die? Why should we die? Why should we lose people that we love? Are we created to come and suffer in the world? Also according to the biblical context, it is said the wages of sin is death. So does God punish us to die?”

So with this, I began to think in the free-thinking view; that I don’t think there is a God who is protecting us. So in this world, we live on our own. If we die, we die, because the memory or any essential part of us which makes us living beings does not function anymore.

Jacobsen: How did you become involved in the freethinking movement? Was this a difficult or an easy process?

Osei:
 When I was in school in 2015, I began to share my freethinking thoughts with my colleagues. They thought I was crazy and did not take me seriously. They sometimes tell me that I want to lead them astray.

They believed I thought and felt that way because I wanted to join a cult and seduce them into the act as well. I was very frustrated and felt very misunderstood. I lost friends because of my beliefs.

Even my family was confused and worried, it was years before I finally met another Ghanaian who also thinks as I do.

Jacobsen: What is your current set of roles and responsibilities in the freethinking community and movement?

Osei:
 I met a women’s group in Gyakan, a suburb of Cape Coast. They are fishmongers who smoke fish to sell and also do some farming work. The grouped was established to involve women who will come together to work hand in hand to live a successful life in the village.

They believed that hard work leads to success and there is no need to rely on any gods. They already had freethinking ideas and views. I had a discussion with the women on superstitious beliefs in Ghana and the role that scientific knowledge plays in correcting some of these superstitious beliefs.

I also went to schools to talk to students about critical thinking on the subject of African traditional beliefs. The talks went well and some students wanted to have a broader conversation on critical thinking in other aspects of our tradition and culture.

I am currently working with Foundation Beyond Belief’s Humanist Service Corps program in Cape Coast. The program seeks to do humanitarian work with local grassroots organizations in the area using ethical humanistic approaches.

Jacobsen: Within those roles, what tasks and responsibilities come along with them?

Osei:
 I am helping the Humanist Service Corps program identify local NGOs in the area to partner with. The process involves meeting with the heads of these NGOs to try and figure out how they operate and if their core values and goals align with that of a humanist program.

Jacobsen: How would a robust primary and secondary school national science education policy improve the conditions for Ghanaians? How would this fit within a humanist worldview?

Osei:
 It will help students explore science in a more intimate manner and hopefully shift the focus from the currently robust religious and moral studies.

When equal emphasis is placed on religion as well as science, it gives students the chance to put more thought into the everyday decisions they make regarding the environment and society. Students will no longer be trapped within superstitious beliefs that they have no way of explaining.

Jacobsen: If you examine the basic premise of many naturalist versus supernaturalist claims, what makes the naturalist view far more robust and consistent given the modern knowledge of the world?

Osei:
 Africa has some of the most religious countries in the world. Ghana is one of them. It is hard for a country to move forward when its citizens do not use facts and evidence to govern the society, the environment, etc.

The rampant belief in superstition has made people vulnerable to government and religious leaders who use miracles and fear in their indoctrination. Worse of all, the society is discouraged from using facts and science to disprove these superstitions as anyone who dares asks questions is then deemed evil and lost to salvation.

For example, the eclipses were said to be evidence that the world is ending some years ago in Ghana until scientists explained that it occurs when the moon shadows the Sun rays from reaching the earth.

Jacobsen: How can the humanist movement in Ghana be supported from the outside and the inside? Any practical examples that have been tried?

Osei:
 The Government needs to invest in more scientific programs and projects in and out of school. There should be as many science centers as there are churches, if not more.

There should be laws put in place to protect people who question or do not believe in religion and superstition. Inside and outside sources can use the media to discuss these issues openly.

Outsiders should invest in and donate to non-governmental organizations that use critical thinking and ethics in doing their work.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, David.

Osei: Thank you.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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