The Course of Reason

Charles Darwin Celebrations at Nairobi National Museum

April 6, 2011

CFI–Kenya and the University of Nairobi CFI On Campus group celebrate evolution on Darwin Day.

On 12th February 2011, the Center for Inquiry–Kenya organized Charles Darwin Celebrations at the Nairobi National Museum. The museum hosts the remains of Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus discovered by Richard and Louise Leakey in 1972 and 1975. The need to see such evidence of the evolution of man has indeed made the place an attraction to many notable scholars around the world. Undeniably, CFI–Kenya chose to hold the celebrations at this location in view of the fact that it could refresh the memories of the participants about the evolution of man and show them some evidence supporting it.

During the event's first session, the invited speakers presented papers on the topic of evolution. This was followed by a storming session where the audience interacted with speakers and asked questions about the arguments for and against evolution. The participants, mostly students from different On Campus groups, were very keen to follow the different kinds of arguments made by the different speakers.


University of Nairobi campus group at the museum

The most thrilling engagement was a debate on creationism. Most speakers held the perspective that creationism puts forth claims that cannot be tested and are therefore beyond the realm of science, and that all the peripheral claims proposed by most creationists have been proven false through testing; hence they are merely beliefs. Nevertheless, most speakers noted that despite the fact that the creationists' beliefs have been proven wrong, most religious fundamentalists in Sub-Saharan Africa have refused to accept the evidence and continue to lobby for the forceful teaching of creation in schools.


A group of participants engaged in a hot debate

In addition, the disappointment put forth is that it is still a notable fact that the public understanding of science is still very poor in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, in many republics of Africa, science continues to be thwarted by practices which are influenced by local customs and values. These behaviors and practices are deeply rooted in traditional beliefs and superstition that are not easily displaced by science or by modern approaches based on new knowledge.

At the end of the celebrations, it was observed that most African countries have not sufficiently addressed the acquisition of scientific knowledge. This is the major reason why witchcraft accusations are widespread across the continent. Many people are at risk of being lynched simply because of people who lack rational approaches to different phenomena. In some parts of rural Africa, HIV/AIDS is still being linked to witchcraft. A child born with the symptoms is seen as a curse to the parents and is often abandoned, fed poison, or hacked to death. Epilepsy too is believed to be a result of witchcraft. Hence many live in fear most of the time in such societies where people would not appreciate having children with certain disabilities, simply because of the scientific ignorance of conservative minds.

This shows African countries should redouble their efforts with a strategy that begins with popularization of science. This needs a kind of empowerment that must be pumped into the brains of the coming generation, including those who are currently at institutions of higher learning. In regards to this commitment, CFI–Kenya assured the audience that it would continue to organize events that promoted good science, reason, and freedom of inquiry.

The event proved useful and CFI–Kenya will continue to organize the event every year, for this is one of the best ways to promote the public understanding of science.


George and the University of Nairobi students outside the museum

 

Comments:

#1 Wesley K. Chirchir (Guest) on Friday June 17, 2011 at 1:12am

it is so good to have a center where information on evolution and other things to do with science can be found. Thanks alot for the information.

#2 makagutu (Guest) on Friday February 08, 2013 at 4:07am

I'd like to know the contacts for the students' representative at the University of Nairobi CFI on Campus

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