Question Beliefs That Do More Harm Than Good – Humanist Association of Ghana

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By Vanderpuye Vanessa Naa Okialey

February 28, 2023. Adabraka, ACCRA: Democracy has taken away the right of Ghanaians to free thought and expression. In that sense, it is not that different from imperialism. Kwabena Antwi Bosiako, President of the Humanist Association of Ghana, made this observation during his talk at African University College of Communication, Accra.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms man’s ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good. It is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion.

The Humanist Association president said colonialism – be it a government of a system of imperialism or ‘democracy’ – takes away the people’s right to free thought and expression.

“Imperialism just means that ‘I think my idea is best and I’ll use my military power to spread it’. And if you think your idea is best, then automatically you think that you are better than anyone else. Therefore only your opinion matters. Democracy from the Greeks of old…they think it’s the best thing ever. And therefore [they] have the right to use weapons to enforce it,” he illustrated.

Mr. Bosiako gave examples of how governments everywhere are able to change education and other social systems without the people’s input on the matter. He asked the audience:

Photo by Vanessa O. Vanderpuye

“For instance, how many people … were even aware that the name ‘Gold Coast’ was being changed to ‘Ghana’? The people woke up one day and learned that they had been given a new government and a new country [with] a new name,” he said.

Speaking on the topic “Beliefs: The What, How and Why”, Bosiako said everyone has a belief, belief being the source of the knowledge of things.

“A belief is just an acceptance that a statement is true or not. [In that sense] you’re only a non-believer to a particular group. Once we accept that a statement is true or not, we become believers,” he explained.

Humanists tend to advocate for human rights, free speech, progressive policies, and democracy. People with a humanist worldview maintain religion is not a precondition of morality, and object to excessive religious entanglement with education and the state.

Bosiako said beliefs are usually imposed on us [by] or adopted from families and communities that do us more harm than good. They become knowledge only when there’s evidence to back them up.

“I had a project at Tamale. It was an installation of a firefighting system…They had their fire festival where they shoot guns at each other. They believe that because of whatever ritual they’d performed they are bullet-proof. What you have to understand is that they are shooting blanks. But blanks can still hurt you. And [so] you will find people being rushed to the hospital for gunshot wounds and other gun-related injuries. But it is the choice they make even though there is no verifiable truth to the fact that they are immune to bullets,” Kwabena Bosiako said.

Bosiako therefore cautioned that one must not accept beliefs handed down to them just as they are, but learn to think for themselves, have free thought discussions, and be open minded.

He advocated for more Humanist clubs to be opened in schools to promote free thinking among the students.

He encouraged students to fight against dogma and fight for human rights with a view to solving problems in the community.

Photo by Vanessa O. Vanderpuye

He shared a story that illustrated the need to question beliefs and cultural norms:

“A lady used to cut her fish in two every time before she cooked it. Something she has learned from her mom who gave her no explanation why. To her, one always had to cut fish in two before frying. It was her family custom. It was tradition. One day [she] asked her grandmother why they observed that tradition. Her grandmother explained that, as a young mother, her frying pan was too small to accommodate a full fish, and so she always had to cut her fish in two so they would fit in the pan. Hence the reason she always asked her children to cut fish into two before frying.”

This, according to Bosiako, is why people should question everything instead of obeying blindly based on beliefs.

“It is thinking that [one’s] ideas cannot be challenged…that’s the problem. That’s the reason to fight against it.”

Kwabena Bosiako is a Built Environment Engineer by profession, interested in how humans interact with their world. He is Managing Partner at Morks Reid, a sustainability and building engineering firm leading the sustainability agenda in Ghana and Africa by providing research-based solutions.

Bosiako has been an agnostic for the last 20 years and a humanist for over a decade.

Humanists affirm that humans have the freedom to give meaning, value, and purpose to their lives by their own independent thought, free inquiry, and responsible, creative activity.

Everything from being kind to a stranger to scuba diving could be humanistic behavior if the motivation is a desire to live a good, authentic, and meaningful life.

2 thoughts on “Question Beliefs That Do More Harm Than Good – Humanist Association of Ghana

  1. Very intuitive, i think.
    A practical approach to creating awareness on the seemingly relevant issues, typical in our African society.
    The further ability to identify which beliefs do more harm than good also lies in our best interest.

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