There are many individuals in Africa who break the mould and challenge our traditional stereotypes. These people challenge our view that every African holds religious beliefs. There are many more black atheists but I want to highlight only those that are still alive, born in Africa, who are making a public contribution to the debate around religious belief.

In the words of Leo Igwe,

“Africans are brought up to believe that there is NO alternative to religion. When in fact there is.”

It is this alternative that is the gift these men are offering us.

Leo Igwe (Nigerian)

Physical attacks, harassment and legal cases have not deterred Leo’s tireless campaigns against superstition and for humanism. He is the director of the Centre for Inquiry in Nigeria, the Nigerian Humanist Movement and the representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) in West Africa. His anti-witch craft campaigns have taken him led him around the African continent and to international conferences. His passionate exposure of child abuse, human rights abuses, the corruption of the Nigerian legal system and the harmful effects of irrational beliefs have made him many enemies but also many friends.

His views and reports can be read on his blog.

Adebowale Ojowuro  (Nigerian)

Adebowale Ojowuro is a Nigerian born Philosopher, Atheist, and author of the Freethought related book, The Crisis of Religion.

He has been on self-exile in the Republic of South Africa since year 2001. A very inquisitive person from childhood, Adebowale upset his Sunday school teachers with his probing questions!

After bible study and a search for God in many different denominations he concludes in his book,

“Unto this day, what I empirically discovered is man’s inordinate search for security and not a fragment of his search for gospel truth and faithful worship.”

He consequently labelled all Africans as “perplexed servants to foreign gods,” in a recent interview published on the Echoes of Commonsense blog.

The Crisis of Religion represents the result of several years of insightful reflection and investigation into the myriad religions that dominate our lives.
The book can be purchased from the publishers and on Amazon.

Kwadwo Obeng (Ghanaian)

Describing himself as “Strongly anti-religion” he says that

“The Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions have shed too much African blood in the names of their man-made gods.”

Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, he served as a Ministerial Servant and Elder in several congregations in Ghana and the United States. His reading of the bible and the Koran led him to question the truths contained within. It prompted him to write his massive tome, We Are All Africans: Exposing the Negative Influence of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic Religions on Africans.  He is also a public speaker and can be watched on YouTube here.

He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Somalia)

Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world she renounced Islam and became an atheist in 2002. Her screenplay for Theo van Gogh’s movie Submission and her numerous books dealing with women in Islam have prompted death threats against her. She maintains that it is not just some Moslems that are violent but

“Violence is inherent in Islam — it’s a destructive, nihilistic cult of death. It legitimates murder.”

She is the founder and president of the AHA Foundation, “to help protect and defend the rights of women in the West against militant Islam.

Through education, outreach and the dissemination of knowledge, the Foundation aims to combat several types of crimes against women, including female genital mutilation, forced marriages, honor violence, and honor killings. “

UPDATE

Wole Soyinka

As pointed out by this blog post The Contributions of Freethinkers: Wole Soyinka, I missed this important figure. He writes in his interview Why I Am a Secular Humanist:

Humanism for me represents taking the human entity as the center of world perception, of social organization and indeed of ethics, deciding in other words what is primarily of the greatest value for humans as opposed to some remote extraterrestrial or ideological authority. And so from that point of view, I consider myself a humanist.

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Please notify me if you feel others should be included.