The sad truth about Africa

Africa is no place for atheists. I tell you now, in some places, you may as well be living in Europe in the Dark Ages with the Inquisition popping out from around every corner.

I just came out as atheist to my girlfriend and it is not going well at all. I am in the process of figuring out what to do, I would just appreciate some testimonials from my fellow thinkers who have either lost or made it work with a christian while maintaining the position of an unapologetic atheist.

I’m wary of sentences which begin with “The truth about—” Have so far never seem such a claim demonstrated to be true. This claim is no exception.

Africa is huge country and in no way homogeneous in terms of ethic groups or religion… Africa has two two major religions ; Christianity , with around 49% of the population, .and Islam, with 52% of the population. Plus of course dozens of tribal religions.

One may not speak any more meaningfully of Muslims as a group than one may speak meaningfully of Christian as a group.

Perhaps do some fact checking before making sweeping generalisations

First of all Africa is a continent not a country. Second of all, I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, Africa. I have lived in nine different African countries over the years and I currently live in Zambia, Africa. So with all due respect, I know what I am talking about when I say unapologetic secularism is not exactly welcome here.

If you dont want to answer the question, then simply don’t.


I would tend to agree - however, I think that there is a quiet underbelly of non-believers. The cultural and family pressures keep the god alive (pick one)…

As for being an unapologetic atheist in a relationship with a Christian - and making it work…we have a poster that has thus far made it work ( @mr.macabre )

Depending on her level of Christian devotion (and type, there are so many) and your outspokenness (when and where and how) and then of course the basic components of the relationship - the relationship may work or it may not. Relationships end for all sorts of reasons, and religious incompatibility may be one.

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Very true, atheists here are either closeted or take great care to muzzle themselves, in most parts of Africa and especially in southern Africa at least. It’s unlikely your potential spouse’s family will accept you if you come out as a nonbeliever, hell, my own family puts their fingers in their ears when I so much as hint at the fact that not every aspect of human life has religious connotations behind it.

Thanks for your input :slight_smile:

The overwhelming majority of Africans take their faith very seriously indeed, I suppose it is because as a poor continent in desperate need of salvation, they are more inclined to believe that only this supernatural being can alleviate their suffering.

Its better now than it was say 20 years ago. The millenials are unlikely to have a stroke if you introduce yourself as an atheist, but the generations before that? Forget about it.

How many Africans follow “traditional” religions (e.g. religions not imported from Europe or Asia)?

I have absolutely no idea of what your life is like living on the African continent, so I won’t even pretend to know what your current situation is like. I do know what it’s like to live with a devout Christian and be an atheist. My wife and I have been together for over 40 years, we have 2 kids and 4 grandkids. Both our son and our daughter met their spouses at the church my wife chose to attend when we moved from southern California to Washington state in 1994. This of course means that our grandkids are being raised as Christians, I have no say in any of their belief systems.
Over the years, I’ve had conversations with my wife, both kids, and one of the preachers at their church. It’s taken many years and arguments before they all realized that I don’t accept any of their reasons for believing and that they’re wasting their time. We finally agreed to disagree on the subject, and it rarely comes up anymore.
If your relationship is strong enough, you need to tell her why you don’t believe, and convince her you’re being an atheist doesn’t make you a different person, you’re still the same person you were before you told her about your lack of belief.
I know that my situation is probably pretty rare in today’s world, but if your reasons for being together are because of other things you have in common other than belief in an imaginary friend, those things should be strong enough for you to work on, and leave the religion crap out of your relationship.
I wish you and your spouse good luck in the future.



I believe you.

As justification of a position, that’s an argument from authority fallacy. Your experience in itself is anecdotal or hearsay. It is not sufficient to justify sweeping statements about an entire continent (or even a country) and its inhabitants.

That’s my answer. Although I believe your personal experience, imo you have not provided independent evidence to demonstrate your claims.

That’s all I have to say to you on this matter

Yes you know your fallacies, how admirable but you are missing the point. We are not debating what the demographics of secularism in Africa are. Of COURSE its anecdotal, I am asking for advice I am not writing a thesis. This is a personal question based on decades of objective observation. I’m not making this stuff up dude, when you see a fly in your house do you sample and analyze its DNA to make sure? No, you know what a fly looks like. So your demand for “proof” of my claims in the form of statistics here is completely irrelevant and incongruous. I am not trying to fool anyone here, I posted this because I wanted the advice of the collective. I have been sruggling with my atheism for the better part of two decades, a fact which is compounded by just how non-secular Africa is in general compared to other regions of the globe, say the United States, or Sweden or Belgium.

I am asking about relationships between believers and non-believers, you are bringing up logical fallacies and statistics.

Again, if you dont believe my claims and don’t want to answer the question, its OKAY, just dont then.

Following traditional religions absolutely and exclusively? An overwhelming minority, scattered tribes mostly which have outright refused to abandon their ancient way of living.

That being said, most Aftricans still hold certain elements of traditional religions to this day, for example, in my family it is frowned upon to eat pork because pigs resemble warthogs which is the “totem” of my ancestors.


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Lol - that’s a new one!

How about hot dogs :hotdog:??? I was forbidden to eat wieners (blood products) by my religion, but now that I think :thinking: about it… maybe it resembled an immoral act (religious perspective)…

It was a pleasure to read this thank you.

She is not my spouse, we have been together for a year and are considering settling down. This religion thing has definitely complicated things because she wants to raise christians with a man that will actually set that example.

I suppose there is no help for it

Well traditional religions do not have as much hold on people’s behaviours as say Christianity or Islam. The observance of dietary restrictions is for the most part a non issue in a traditional context, I have never been discaouraged from eating pork even though there is the totem thing, its really the generation before mine that doesn’t.

However in these newer religions dietary restrictions are taken very seriously, for example, in Zambia, where I currently live there is a very large population of Seventh Day Adventists and they WILL not even touch pork.

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Well @mr.macabre has found someone who loves him for himself (a rarity) - and he likewise. They have chosen to accept and respect each other instead of change and mold to their own liking. They have had decades to work through this.

You’ve got about a year with your love, so time will determine how much acceptance for each other as people … BUT what the fuck is the “Christian man” in her mind?

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A practicing, church-going, bible-thumping, god-fearing christian man lol

Here there is no higher compliment you can give a person than to call them “god-fearing”

Have you been this in the time you’ve been with her?

My advise??? Take with a grain of salt, people get together for all sorts of reasons - but she’s in love with who she wants you to be or can be (once you’ve changed). If you’re OK with that, continue on…

That doesn’t sound like you. Seems like you are trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, IMO.

Really? I was under the impression that religious dietary restrictions were due to certain things like pork causing diseases like trichinosis. I also know that certain religions require animals to be killed in a certain way, but I haven’t heard of any banning eating of certain foods due to morality.