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Article 19(1) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977 is a Legal Opportunity to Freethinkers in the Nation

August 16, 2021












Author: Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: August 16, 2021

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,140

Keywords: Constitution, Dar es Salaam, East Africa, Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge, Tanzania.

Article 19(1) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977 is a Legal Opportunity to Freethinkers in the Nation

Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge[1],[2]*

Dar es salaam, Tanzania – East Africa.

Freethinkers in Tanzania are small in percentage, yet their rights as human beings are provided, guaranteed and protected by the supreme law of the land which is the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977 specifically in article 19(1), whereby the article provides that…Every person has the right to the freedom of conscience, faith and choice in matters of religion, including the freedom to change his religion or faith.

This implies that every person in the United Republic of Tanzania is free to make a choice in what to believe and what not to believe essentially in matters of religion, and faith. A quotation below has a clear explanation of what the mentioned article does intend to portray. Freedom of religion and conscience this right means that no person should be required to profess any religion or other belief against his or her desire. Additionally, no one should be punished or penalized in any way because he or she chooses one religion over another or indeed opts for no religion at all”[3]

Therefore article 19(1) is the foundation that makes Tanzanian freethinkers, atheists, non-believers and secular humanists have an opportunity of enjoying their right of non-believing. In fact, it is a legal chance for Tanzanian Freethinkers (non-believers) to make use of such constitutional avenues in order to push forward their activism and the movement in general national wide. The viewpoint of article 19(1) is also reflected in article 3(1) of the Constitution which among other things the article expresses that the United Republic of Tanzania is democratic, and a secular state. Hence forth secular humanists and freethinkers in Tanzania are free to use this opportunity which is enshrined under article 19(1). On the other hand in case any constitutional right is violated, then such right can be claimed and enforced by instituting proceedings for redress in the High Court of Tanzania, this is provided under article 30(3) of the Constitution. Therefore Secular humanists as well as freethinkers of Tanzania are urged to use this right of freedom of conscience and a right of choice on what to believe particularly in terms of faith or even a right of not believing in anything, because it is a Constitutional right. For that reason freethinkers may well undergo their activism peacefully and respectfully while observing article 19(1).

The essence of article 19(1) is entrenched in safeguarding the so called Individual Rights. Individual rights are natural rights that all human beings are born with and they cannot be taken away by the government but the government’s duty is only to protect them. These individual rights do include the right to life, right to equality, freedom of speech, and expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion and conscience, together with freedom of assembly.

However such right of freedom of religion and conscience as individual right may be violated either by some parents who denies their families a right to decide on what to believe or not to believe in matters of what to trust either religion or not to trust in any religion, much of the parents do emphasis that their religions is the one to be adopted by their families. While in some places the public will not tolerate existence of people who do not believe their religions hence may disturb those non-believers. On the other hand in Tanzania the individual rights like freedom of religion and conscience can be protected as follows: First it is through the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as the Courts of law. Individual rights are enshrined in the constitution and Courts of law are empowered by the constitution under article 30(3) to protect human rights. Second it is through the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, which is established by article 129(1) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977. While the law governing the operationalization of that commission, it is the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance Act, Cap 391, Revised Edition of 2009. Where among other functions it empowers the Commission for Human Rights in Tanzania to promote, protect and preserve human rights in the nation. That mentioned function of the Commission is expressly noticeable in section 6(1) (a) of the Act, and the section provides that …the commission shall carry out the following functions (a) to promote within the country the protection and the preservation of human rights and of duties to the society in accordance with the constitution and the laws of the land’’

Third it is through the press. Free media is in a good position to play a big role on informing the public concerning violations of individual rights such as freedom of religion and conscience, hence the presence of much informed people in the community about violations of individual rights then the cry becomes a general outcry, this may force the authorities to take some measures so as to stop the violations. Fourth it is through adhering to the principles of rule of law, this viewpoint insists on equality before the law, that every member of the community is to be left free to enjoy rights that are guaranteed by the law and the Constitution such as a right of freedom of being left free to choose one religion over another or indeed being left free to opt for no religion at all. Therefore obedience of rule of law is the best methodology of protecting human rights including the rights of minority groups. Fifth it is through providing Civic education to the public, civic education does teach and educate citizens about their basic rights as a human being and their obligations to the nation as responsible citizens.[3]

Conclusively, freethinkers in Tanzania are urged to exploit this right under Article 19(1) as a constitutional and legal right in order to push their activism countrywide since it is a legal opportunity that may not be enjoyed in some other parts of the world. However such right is not absolute, it has to be enjoyed subject to obedience of other laws which regulate the modus operandi of enjoying such right. For instance article 30(1) of the Constitution among other things it maintains that human rights and freedom which is enshrined in the constitution should not be enjoyed by a person to the extent of causing interference to freedom of other persons or interfere public interest, while article 30(2)a, of the Constitution provides that while enjoying the rights from article 19(1) then there must be an ensuring measures that…the rights and freedoms of other people or of the interests of the public are not prejudiced by the wrongful exercise of the freedoms and rights of individuals.

Thus article 30(1), and (2) a, of the Constitution provides some limitations of enjoying those rights enshrined in article 19(1) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977.



Ministry of Education. Civics Syllabus for Secondary Schools Forms I – IV: Dar Es Salaam: Ministry of Education, United Republic of Tanzania, 1995.

Tanzania Institute of Education. Civics Manual for Secondary Teachers and College Tutors: Dares salaam: TIE, 2002.


The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance Act Cap 391, Revised Edition of 2009.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Lucas Is Assistant Editor African Freethinker/ (Tanzania), a Lawyer, an Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania, a Notary Public and Commissioner for Oaths, Member of the Bar Association of Tanzania main land, also a Freethinker activist in Tanzania. (E-mail:

 [2] Individual Publication Date: August 16, 2021:

*Contacts are: Email: isamwaka Mobile Phone +225 754326296. WhatsApp +255 629204106

[3] Civics Manual For Secondary Teachers and College Tutors (Dar es salaam: Tanzania Institute of Education, 2002),9.

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