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A Vehicle For Progress: Rethinking African Cultural Dynamics (Foreword by Scott Douglas Jacobsen)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen (for Takudzwa Mazwienduna)

Publication (Outlet/Website): Book Foreword

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/09/01

Freethought in Africa, as the spark has been struck, will become a hallmark of sub-cultures throughout the African continent and diaspora in the coming decades. For the hierarchs of the religious institutions and the politically corrupt in bed with the theocratic, the demographic wave will continue as a means by which to secularize Africa as a continuation of the de-colonial eras, and the re-imagining of parts of pre-European and pre-Arab contact with Africa inclusive of a humanist vision, e.g., in the philosophy of Ubuntu or Unhu.

The idea inherent in Humanism comes inchoate in the form of Ubuntu or Unhu in which an individual’s identity exists alone and in community, in which the collective exists in intimate connection with the individual for one cannot survive in a challenging world without the other. Thus, we come to the humanist notion or the truly African notion – once one strips the supernaturalism and superstition away – of interdependency or social responsibility. Secularism merely truncates this notion from the supernatural in rejection of European Christian colonizers’ visions of a Christ almighty, Arab Muslim colonizers’ impositions of universal submission to the extranatural forces, or pre-colonial supernaturalisms in the form of African supernaturalisms and superstitions.

That is to state, a social responsibility bound to the idea of the natural. The freethought framework, in general, incorporates secularism, Humanism, and naturalism, in which Unhu and Ubuntu overlap with significant conceptual sections of Humanism in its emphasis on the individual, the collective, and social responsibility. These three points of contact pertain to some, not the entirely, of the fundamentals seen within a diverse weave of freethought around the world. However, these seem to produce networks, organizations, and personalities now. Takudzwa Mazwienduna is one such personality alongside some African organizations.

My first contact with Takudzwa occurred years ago as a writer through Cornelius Press as a progressive publication based on South Africa with Gayleen Cornelius and Takudzwa Mazwienduna at the helm. I wrote a number of articles for them, wherein South Africa’s problems in secular progress pertain to the same trends in other countries and other African states’ issues. The themes remain common, as I continue to interview several freethinkers in Africa and in the African diaspora. Their concerns and problems appear the same with different emphases per nation-state, while more extreme in some cases compared to other more secular states. Of course, nations and empires who did the colonizing had a head start on this progress. As well, African states remain poorer, more entrenched in fundamentalist religion, and behind on equal rights for women, in a post-colonial context. As these countries’ people become better educated, more secular, and permit equal rights, including economic access and educational opportunity for women, the more development and positive progress in wellbeing and wealth the societies will witness for themselves. Others remain nuanced concerns in familial and social environs in Africa.

A Vehicle for Progress by Takudzwa covers some of the needed ground around abuse of children in an African context. Certainly, this can be considered a worldwide problem. In Africa, from outside, perhaps, one issue comes in antipodes of an extreme in one dimension of analysis. One extreme pole in the view of Africans as an amorphous continent of people who cannot be understood, as if uncivilized peoples without the capacity for reason and science. Another extreme pole in the perception of Africans in dire need of critical care from various wealthy countries, NGOs, INGOs, or CSOs, indefinitely, as if Africans do not have individuality and the capacity for self-ownership, governance of themselves, and retain the right to determine the course of their lives, their countries, and their continent. In either case, autonomy and the fundamental act of choice for Africans seems missed while viewing Africans as a bloc. One contribution from Takudzwa in A Vehicle for Progress is telling an African story, an intimate one. More contributions of this form can help de-mystify the identities, cultures, and lives of Africans, thus humanizing Africans. In turn, and by definition, this becomes a humanistic effort and, therefore, bound to the principles of Humanism.

Herein, Takudzwa produces something necessary to the intellectual emancipation of Africans by Africans. In trying to catalogue and give platform, voice, and motion to some of the already moving freethought communities in Africa, as I have done, I remain chary or cautiously aware as to the importance, as a non-African (though African in the long-term descent of humanity), of this self-emancipation rather than assumed ‘delivery’ by the foreigner, the outsider, who may not comprehend the intricacies, sub-cultures, or needed points of contact in the African diaspora. Being a non-African doesn’t seem to imply inability to understand or make accurate commentary on the situation, however, a longer term emancipatory movement comes from inside the cultures and not outside of them through self-empowerment and development of critical thinking skills via self-critical questions.

In this shared effort, and in this individual representation of the shared effort by Takudzwa, I wish you happy reading.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

September 1, 2020


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


© 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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