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An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and Uganda

March 8, 2020

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 22.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eighteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 8, 2020

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,231

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Bwambale Musubaho Robert is the School Director of the Kasese Humanist School (Rukoki/Muhokya/Kahendero). He discusses: family background; pivotal moments in childhood; pivotal moments in adolescence; religious community and young adulthood; important individuals; leaving religious fundamentalism; relevant works by prominent freethinkers; Kasese Humanist School development; standard religious curriculum in Kasese; standard Humanist curriculum in Kasese; the compare and contrast of the religious and Humanist school systems; comparing outcomes from the different educational curricula; prejudice against Humanist schools; prejudice against staff, students, and Robert; prejudice’s impact on students’ mental health and wellbeing; donors to the Kasese Humanist educational system; amounts, finances, and uses of the monies; plans for the school; Humanism; important mentors and role models; Humanists International; and the history of European-Christian and Arab-Muslim colonization in Africa.

Keywords: Bwambale Musubaho Robert, family, Humanism, Kahendero, Kasese, Muhokya, Rukoki, Uganda.

An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and Uganda: School Director, Kasese Humanist School (Rukoki/Muhokya/Kahendero)[1],[2]*

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s start with the comprehensive interview at the natural starting point: the beginning. What is family background, e.g., geography, culture, language, and religion or lack thereof?

Robert Bwambale: I am a Ugandan by nationality, a native of Kasese district in western Uganda, I am Mukonzo by tribe, who live on the slopes of Mount Rwenzori. Our ancestral origin is in Eastern Congo. We speak Lhukonzo, which is among the Bantu-speaking languages. Before I lost my faith, I was originally an Anglican, tried to mingle with other religious communities to see what transpires on there. I had the chance of mingling with African traditional believers, Pentecostals, Adventists, Muslims, Catholics and these moments gave me a full insight on what religion is and this paved the way to me losing the faith.

2. Jacobsen: What were the pivotal moments in childhood? Those coming to mind for you.

Bwambale: When my mum dumped and abandoned us before our dad passed on.

Some good moments with my dad, we used to move together with him.

When I lost my dad, by then, was 5 years.

My times with my caring grandmother. She used to encourage us to pray and go to church. She was a devoted Anglican. She used to sell porridge and pancakes in a local market.

Good moments when I joined secondary school, from village life to town life.

Sad moments when I dropped out of school, was on the streets doing odd jobs for two years.

Back to school moments, from town school to a village school.

3. Jacobsen: What were the pivotal moments in adolescence? Those coming to mind for you.

Bwambale: I joined good pear groups where I did odd jobs, selling newspapers & magazines on Kampala streets, Made money sweeping outdoor markets in Kampala, worked as a caddie at Uganda golf club where we used to carry bags or pull trolleys of golfers as they play the game and were paid at each end of game.

I created friends with the opposite sex and made choices on whom to be my friends plus people to associate with.

I learned some skills in haircutting.

4. Jacobsen: When transitioning into young adulthood, how did the religious community continue to enforce an impact on physical space and mental life?

Bwambale: As I grew into young adulthood, I felt more attached to religious communities and was very active in their circles. I was confirmed as a Christian in the early years when I was in Senior 3 at Karambi Secondary School.

When I joined Rwenzori High School for high school, I became an active member of the Scripture Union. I attended service regularly and was much moved because everyone around me was taking religion seriously, but my senses were telling me to research more about beliefs.

When I joined Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo, I used to pray at Kampala Pentecostal church and was a regular visitor there. At the college, I used to fellowship with Kyambogo Christian Union and enjoyed the prayer and worship moments.

As someone who was doing Biological sciences at the college, my urge to ask questions widened and would ask men and women of god some questions regarding faith, religion plus what I read in the Bible. I realized that the Bible is a mixture of words of comfort, confusion, hate, discrimination and total malice.

5.Jacobsen: Were there some important individuals who provided a means by which to exit the entrapments of religion for you?

Bwambale: There is none. Exiting religion was my personal choice and decision.

Jacobsen: How did you begin helping out others in leaving religious fundamentalism?

Bwambale: By enlightening them about the goodness of rational living by availing to them books on Humanism, Atheism, science, and freethinking.

Creating a library with books on beliefs, non-belief, and important personalities in the world of free thought.

Opening up schools and businesses that cherish humanism and science.

6. Jacobsen: Dr. Leo Igwe remarks on the importance of his mother and father in Nigeria as the best example of Humanism to him, not declarations – of which humanists are prone to make – or books on Humanism. Life was tough, living day-by-day, and the work to grind in, and out, of poverty was harsh and necessary. Taking a stand, taking charge of his destiny, and working to become the founder of the Nigerian Humanist movement, who have been some of the best examples of Humanism to you?

Bwambale: Works by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, David Mills, Madelyn O’Hair, Robert Ingersoll, and Bertrand Russell inspired me a lot.

7. Jacobsen: Why was the Kasese Humanist educational system developed in the first place? How has this developed over the last, almost, a decade?

Bwambale: Our strong commitment and dedication to service is a great factor for our development.

The strong bond of Kasese humanist school with the international community support in the form of material and financial donations gives a great boost to our success.

The visionary efforts of myself in ensuring any penny donated goes to where it’s required has added value to our works.

My fundraising skills of availing to the general public what I do by documenting all of my works online makes people see what I do and gives chance to the generous ones to give funds, ideas or advice.

The need for an alternative to religious bigotry is one other key point. People are losing their faiths steadily globally, gone are the days of lying to humanity, feeding humanity with superstitions. You can fool people, but this can’t go on all the time. So, to some, they see some kind of hope in secularism since it only airs out facts, science, and encourages evidence-based learning.

We have developed from a rented property in 2011 to our own home acquired 3 years after (2014) at the Rukoki site.

We expanded and constructed on our other home in Muhokya often referred to as the Bizoha School.

We extended to creating another school at the land we acquired at the Kahendero Fishing village.

We right now have Nursery & Primary at all the campuses and a secondary school added at our Rukoki campus.

8. Jacobsen: What is considered the standard religious curriculum in Uganda? 

Bwambale: In this kind of curriculum only two religions are taught, Islam and Christianity and a student is made to pick a particular religion to undertake and exams come on in that format where a student is made to choose to attempt only one religion.

9. Jacobsen: What is considered the standard Humanist curriculum for Kasese?

Bwambale: There are some lessons on Humanism, its history, humanist values, human rights, critical thinking lessons, documentaries on secularism, Evolution, secularism in the world. There is nothing like a standard humanist curriculum, it’s a mixture of several things all aimed at empowering our students with secular thinking.

10. Jacobsen: Relating the last two questions, how do these two systems compare and contrast with one another?

Bwambale: A humanist curriculum is broader than the standard religious curriculum

The humanist curriculum is livelier and enjoyed by learners since it involves daily things they see, find, or encounter in life.

There is no indoctrination in a humanist curriculum and there is always a chance to ask any questions.

There are no tenets, imaginaries, rituals or mention of god, gods, and spirits under the humanist curriculum, unlike the religious curriculums.

There is a limit of asking questions under religious curriculum while under humanist curriculums we encourage students to ask as many questions and get factual answers.

11. Jacobsen: If we look at those two educational curricula, or if we look at similar comparisons in Uganda, what educational curricula – and, indeed, system – produces better outcomes and life chances for the pupils or the students?

Bwambale: It should be noted that at the school we teach the national curriculum and we spice it with humanist curricula and the spiced version is the best for it gives children a wider scope to broaden their level of thinking and the way they look at things.

12. Jacobsen: What is the prejudice against Humanist schools there?

Bwambale: That we are devil worshippers.

Agents of Satan.

We go under deep seas to get money or wealth.

That we perform rituals to get fortunes.

That our children at the schools are possessed by evil spirits.

That we are anti-Christ.

That we are sinners and will burn in hell.

That we don’t pray.

That we don’t know god.

That we shall rot and never come to life again.

That we shall burn in hell.

That there is no eternity for humanists.

That we are homosexuals.

13. Jacobsen: What is the prejudice against staff and students, and you, in Uganda as humanists?

Bwambale: As mentioned above!

14. Jacobsen: How do these prejudices impact students’ mental health and wellbeing?

Bwambale: The children’s mental health and wellbeing are unaffected since all these are ignorant statements and are a product of ignorance that we are fighting against.

However such statements sometimes hinder some parents or children to join our school project.

15. Jacobsen: What makes parents weary of paying for their students to take part in Humanist education? How do you overcome those barriers?

Bwambale: We sensitize and try as much to tell the parents what we offer and the truth about Humanism, Atheism, Science and rational thinking.

16. Jacobsen: Who are donors to the Kasese Humanist educational system?

Bwambale: Local parents, International parents inform of child sponsors, well wishers from all parts of the world and some charitable non-profits in several parts of the world.

17. Jacobsen: What are the amounts? How is the money being used now? How has it been used in the past?

Bwambale: The amounts keeps varying, donations are not flowing in regularly and are realized one by one.

Money is being used to construct classrooms, buy or make school furniture, Scholastic supplies, lab instruments and reagents, paying staff salaries, utility bills, government taxes, building toilets, purchasing solar & its accessories, water tanks, planting trees and maintaining school income generating projects.

18. Jacobsen: What are the plans for the schools if the same or more funding continues to enter the system?

Bwambale: Build better classrooms, well-equipped book libraries, School Science laboratories, built computer rooms and stocking them. Build more hostels, build on-campus restaurants, put better playing materials and educational resources for the kids. Decent toilet facilities.

Raising salaries for my teachers, so that they improve their wellbeing and be happy.

Enroll more needy and disadvantaged children, so that they are in school.

Put in place Administration office blocks at the schools this lacks at the moment.

Create more income-generating projects for self-reliance.

19. Jacobsen: What is Humanism to you?

Bwambale: Humanism is my everything, It teaches me that am special, I have the brains, I have my body and all it takes I have to use my potential as a human being to solve my problems.

Humanism is real, it teaches unity, love, harmony, kindness and care amongst us.

Humanism helps us to understand the known and the unknown

Humanism empowers Humanity to be good always.

Humanism encourages how to think and not what to think.

Humanism helps us to distinguish facts from fiction.

Humanism helps us to understand our origin, where we are and the final destination.

20. Jacobsen: Who have been important mentors for you? Who have been important role models now? Why them?

Bwambale: Christopher Hitchens, he pointed out that God is not great and his book inspired me.

Richard Dawkins’s works help us to understand how god thing is an invention by humans.

comparing outcomes from the different educational curricula; prejudice against Humanist schools; prejudice against staff, students, and Robert; prejudice’s impact on students’ mental health and wellbeing; donors to the Kasese Humanist educational system; amounts, finances, and uses of the monies; plans for the school; Humanism; important mentors and role models; recommended authors, organizations, or speakers; the success of Humanism in Uganda; humanists coming together; 

21. Jacobsen: Any recommended authors, organizations, or speakers?

Bwambale: Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, David Mills, Barbara Smoker, Robert Ingersoll, Michael Parenti.

Favourite organizations:

Atheist Alliance International

Humanist Canada

Halton Peel Humanist Community

Atheist Community of San Jose

Victoria Humanists Australia

Freedom from Religion Foundation

Atheist Foundation of Australia

Foundation Beyond Belief

Humanist Global Charity

Rationalist Society of Australia

Humanist International

Speakers include: Henri Pellissier, Leo Igwe, Ricky Gervais, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Matt Dillahunty.

22. Jacobsen: Why has Uganda been such a success for Humanist organizations and, thus, Humanism as a whole?

Bwambale: I think this has been attributed to what we do. Most of the successful projects are the schools, nobody hates schools, we do have health clinics, we do create forests & edible gardens, We do engage in active farming, We do help vulnerable children, empower locals to get started economically and speak for the voiceless, we do attend to economic and social issues and we do air something on political situations and good governance. All these mentioned above are very important and the locals plus the government see no harm in what we are doing.

We stick to our core vision of spreading Humanism and explaining to masses what it means, what it entails and its benefits in empowering humanity, I think locals have identified that we have the facts. And we continue to expose the fictions which people if well explained to can see it too. So we are great ambassadors advocating for a better world.

23. Jacobsen: How have intra-national and inter-national/regional efforts worked over time? The coming together of humanists to combat significant issues of superstition, lack of science and human rights education, and more.

Bwambale: We do have an umbrella for Uganda humanists called Uganda Humanist Association that unites all humanist organizations in Uganda, other secular organizations prevail, we do have seminars, debates, conferences among ourselves and once in a while our country hosting some international conferences.

Some of our members do get invited to international conferences and there are human rights advocacy activists working around the clock to ensure human rights are respected and not violated.

24. Jacobsen: How has Humanists International been a guiding light in many ways and funder of Humanist projects?

Bwambale: Humanists International is doing good work in bringing humanist organizations together and helping out in raising a voice and helping out with funding. I have seen them fund some organizations, which is a good thing. I think they are doing some good work for us and the world.

We however still need more charities like Humanist International to work with Ugandan secular organizations in creating change.

Most humanist projects are still small and we need to put in more effort to make our projects grow. The struggle to achieve this is possible. We need to think big and invest in big initiatives as well.

25. Jacobsen: What are some other core issues needing tackling in Africa in a post-colonial (European-Christian and Arab-Muslims colonization) context for the most part? One in which the pre-colonial superstitions can infect some of the societies too, even while the values of Ubuntu/Unhu reflect core Humanist principles before forced, violent contact with European-Christians and Arab-Muslims in the history of Africa.

Bwambale: Good governance is still missing in Africa; corruption is a song of the day. Our leaders want to rule instead of leading, they want an ignorant population which is bad for the world.

Illiteracy is still high

Religion and politics still go hand in hand, be it in courts of law and in public places

Homophobia is a strong disease that urgently needs a cure.

A switch from Religion to Secularism is a great need for Africa to move forward.

Xenophobia should be discouraged, Africans should look at themselves as brothers and sisters and we should work and live in good harmony with each other. All people are the same, race, religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation is not an issue here.

26. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Robert.

Bwambale: You are welcome.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] School Director, Kasese Humanist School (Rukoki/Muhokya/Kahendero).

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 8, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and Uganda [Online].March 2020; 22(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, March 8). An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and UgandaRetrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and Uganda. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A, March. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and Uganda.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and Uganda.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A (March 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and UgandaIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 22.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and UgandaIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 22.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and Uganda.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 22.A (2020):March. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Bwambale Musubaho Robert on Family Background, Humanism, Kasese Humanist School, and Uganda [Internet]. (2020, March 22(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/robert.

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