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Conversation with Nandip Bongfa Vongwap on Nigeria Under Coronavirus

April 17, 2020









Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewee: Nandip Bongfa Vongwap

Numbering: Issue 1.A, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: April 17, 2020

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 949

Keywords: Africa, atheism, coronavirus, culture, humanism, Nandip Bongfa Vongwap, Nigeria.

Conversation with Nandip Bongfa Vongwap on Nigeria Under Coronavirus[1],[2]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s start with some updates on the Nigerian political context. How are things developing despite the coronavirus?

Nandip Bongfa Vongwap: I think the Nigerian political climate is much less affected by coronavirus than the economic climate, though it’s often difficult to disentangle the two. Businesses have come to a virtual standstill in many parts of the country. But overall, I think Government approach to the pandemic (particularly pumping huge sums of money into the programme) seems to be well received by the public.

Jacobsen: How are some of the religious communities in Nigeria reacting to the coronavirus?

Vongwap: Religious community leaders seem to have displayed some ambivalence about the lockdown imposed by Government, perhaps because they are losing weekly tithes! But Government has made it mandatory for everyone to comply.

And some religious leaders, especially the Muslims in northern Nigeria, don’t believe that the coronavirus is real. One imam told his followers at a prayer meeting that the virus is not real, and is the work of the infidel West to stop Muslims in the world from praying to Allah.

To make matter worse, one of the youth in Kano northern Nigeria washed his dirty hands and drank the dirty water to prove what the imam was saying is true. The youth speaks in the Hausa language that coronavirus is not real; that coronavirus is a bastard; the video went viral on social media.

Nigerian Doctor Reacts To A Viral Video Of A Northerner Youth In Kano.

Another aspect is the lockdown, which is making people sleep without eating any food. People are hungry. Some people have nothing to eat, the government palliative did not go around; some officials sharing the food and sometimes mone. They only select their friends, relatives, and party members that benefit from it.

Jacobsen: What have been some of the public health measures endorsed by the state? How have some religious communities completely ignored this?

Vongwap: There is a total lockdown in some states (Lagos, Ogun, FCT, Plateau, etc.). The government has established testing and isolation/treatment facilities in many parts of the country; through extensive media dissemination, it encourages the wearing of face masks and social distancing among the populace.

Churches and mosque have also in lockdown, the Christians community are very obedient in obeying the government lockdown order, but the Muslims are not showing much interest by obeying the order from the government. In fact, some state government lifted the lockdown to allow Muslims to go and pray in the mosque on Fridays.

Jacobsen: How have your perspectives change in the last year or so on religion, science, and Humanism?

Vongwap: Coronavirus has not changed MY perspective on religion, science and humanism. I remain resolutely opposed to any form of religious superstition and see science as Man’s ultimate salvation.

Religion has completely closed their market for fear of the dead, because religion is a business, without people to give offering, pay tithe and donations, organized religion could have been long dead. The Vatican is closed, Mecca is closed, Jerusalem for Christian pilgrims is also closed. The only place that is open for humanity is the hospital, and the hospital is the product of science. You can see: science rules the world.

The religious leaders are waiting patiently for the scientist to get the cure for the deadly coronavirus. They would rush to claim that it is God or Allah that provided the cure, because there is this popular saying here in northern Nigeria in the Hausa language that “Allah bazaya haiko da chuta ba, be haiko da magane sa ba” meaning, ‘God can not send a plague to his people without the cure.’

Jacobsen: What are some of the developments important to highlight about the secular communities now?

Vongwap: Officially in Nigeria, secularism is only honoured in its breach, despite a constitutional provision imposing it on the country. I don’t think the present circumstances would incline diehard believers to change their minds to secularism. Still, many youths are increasingly embracing humanism.

Jacobsen: What is African freethinking to you? How does this provide a salve for the issues confronting African citizens throughout the continent in terms of the abuses of power and the rebuilding after Arab-Muslim and Christian-European colonization?

Vongwap:  African freethinking is still in the making; as more and more Africans get exposed to the world through travel, education and the Internet, they will surely move with the tide of secularism and humanism. That’s my hope.

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

Vongwap: Thank you

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Board Member, Humanist Association of Nigeria (HAN); Board Member, Atheists Society of Nigeria (ASN).

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 17, 2020:

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