On October 2, 2011, I came out as an Atheist. I knew it was going to be difficult, and I thought that my religious family was going to be vocal about it to the point of excommunication, but they haven’t been—yet the reaction is not any less painful. I’ve been met with the same “good for you, now keep it to yourself” reaction; any deviation from that would manifest itself in a manner akin to “it’s just a phase, you’ll come back.” Their reactions reek of condescension and shame; and although I expected it, it still hurts.
That being put aside, it is still the best decision I have made in my life so far to come out Atheist. I still find it weird that all the Atheists I know are white and had the luxury of not being inculcated as I was (I still am embarrassed by that.) Every day, I wonder if I am the only African Atheist I will ever know. That might be a defeatist stance, but based on personal experience, I would find it surprising that someone with a similar upbringing to mine would be able to escape religious inculcation.
Again, I would like to be able to connect with other Atheists from the motherland (and Atheists in general,) and be able to spark a “mini-enlightenment” of sorts. By sharing our experiences and utilizing our intellect, we can and will help each other and those important to us. I believe that for Africa to move forward, we need to shed the shackles of religion and promote science, skepticism, and reason. It is the best gift humanity can give back to the continent in which it finds its roots.
Joel C. Sati
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