Turning atheist is a new millennium wave sweeping through Nigeria as a country. Many of its people are now rejecting established religions and moving to Traditional worship or simply turning atheist for lack of belief in God. In the past, it is a thing but not anymore. This days, it is very common to see or hear about people who don’t believe in God.
Though there is no recognised official statistics for total number of atheists in Nigeria, speculations abound that many people in Nigeria are atheists in secret, just waiting for the right moment and environment to express themselves freely. So, here are things no one will tell you about being an atheist in Nigeria. You probably already know them anyway.
• Once you declare yourself as an atheist or freethinker, you should know that other people also have a right to dissociate themselves from you because of your new found belief system. Same way freedom of religion exists is also same way freedom of association exists.
Freedom of religion = freedom of association! Therefore, you shouldn’t expect others to continue to take you as you were before your new conversion.
• Your life will automatically change because you are living in a society full of religious people. Once someone realises you are an atheist, they change their behaviour towards you automatically as if you caused the covid-19 pandemic. However, so long as you keep your new found perspectives to yourself and within familiar circles without disturbing anyone with it, no one will bother you.
• Getting jobs in a religious affiliated business entity becomes a problem. In Nigeria, that’s like 90% of the whole business entities in the country. Of course religious schools is out of the question. No one wants you dissuading their members with your new found perspectives.
• You are going to lose a lot of friends who you no longer share the same faith and ideologies with. However, your real friends will still remain but will avoid religious related discussions with you. Your new best paddies will be on online forums of those with similar minds.
• You may find yourself increasingly being drawn to topics that will make you challenge your new found atheist/freethinking views, thoughts and knowledge. This also includes religious topics especially.
• You may find yourself withdrawing more and more into your shell, and will start avoiding religious discuss at all costs. However, this part usually comes after your brain deals with the religious crisis you just witnessed within yourself.
Yes, personal religious crisis is a serious psychological issue that is currently on its way to being recognised as a medical condition which requires urgent counseling and therapy. The religious crisis in this regards means clash of beliefs since you no longer believe in your old faith.
However, once the religious crisis is over, you will automatically assume a new personality clothed in reason and logic at all times!
• You will become more empathic since you will start seeing things from a new angle through perspectives you probably didn’t think existed in the past.
• You are going to start researching more and more about religious related stuffs online and offline. You may get lost in the sea of new knowledge available on the internet.
If not careful, you may confuse yourself with new information or knowledge from all sorts of websites, wonderful articles and pdf, including the ones locked behind passwords and pay-walls.
• You will be more interested in verifying things first before asserting it since you will now be more interested in authenticity and veracity of an information first before using or agreeing to it.
• You are going to start developing a new voice in yourself which will always tell you to follow the logic and reasoning behind concepts.
• This will eventually cultivate itself into a habit and create an attitude. Because you now follow the logic, what is illogical will not indulge you anymore since you can conceptualise it in many ways. For people who are used to belief systems, it becomes a problem. Why? The things that no longer make sense to you is the bedrock of other people’s life, culture and total living. It was once your bedrock too.
Your life will become more simpler since you would have lost a lot of your religious connection and community. You also become very selective of your new connections, and will definitely not want to associate with people whose religious views doesn’t align with your new found perspectives.
• Your new found views will not be appreciated in your immediate environment most of the time.
Therefore, whatever you do, don’t advertise yourself in any way. You will only be making yourself a big target for religious extremist groups around the area. You might consider leaving the area (if you have the means) once you notice animosity, toxicity and discontent towards your person afterwards because of your new found freethinking perspectives.
In 2014, Mubarak Bala was incarcerated in a mental hospital by his parents for declaring his unbelief in God. The Guardian reported the abuse nationwide and globally back then. Some people’s familiar may abandon them after they come to know of such decisions. So, best to keep it to yourself if your immediate environment is not that much accepting. It’s their right too!
• Finally, you are not a scientist just because you turned atheist. So, in case someone starts asking you scientifically related questions you know nothing about because you are an atheist, tell them you are not a scientist.