Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Black South African Woman’s Journey to Atheism

South Africa is one of the least religious countries in Africa. About 15 percent of the population identifies as having no religious affiliation and that includes atheists. While some would argue that the country’s non-theistic demography is mainly white, there is a growing number of black South Africans who are atheists and who do not profess any religion. So, the religious demography in the country is undergoing a rapid change.

Recently I conversed with a black South African woman, Nosipho, who narrated how she abandoned her Christian faith and embraced atheism: “I am 39 years and was raised by my grandparents, my mother had me when she was just completing school and when she got married, my grandparents thought it was better that they raised me. My grandparents both attended Assemblies of God and so I grew up having to compulsorily attend church. I therefore became aware of "Jesus the Savior" early in my life and of course the promise of heaven through Jesus and Hell if you reject him”.

Nosipho had a difficult childhood and that made her to become very religious, “Growing up with a mother who was in and out of my life (as every time she had marital problems she would come back home and then after a period she went back to her husband), I started to have poor self-image issues and found it very difficult to relate to my peers as I somehow felt like a rejected person as I had no mother to guide me. So I had moments where I would try to find my identity independent of human beings and of course I had the belief in a "Jesus" or God who was the perfect father who would not disappoint me”

Nosipho’s struggles continued in her teenage years: “I had some years from my early teens through to my late teens of being on and off with my being ‘born again’ and struggling with the challenges of being a teenager who was trying to discover herself as a woman. It was in 1997, when I was doing the last year of my three year tertiary education that I finally made the full "conversion".

However Nosipho’s ‘full conversion’ took a toll on her education:

“I then poured out all my being into becoming a fervent "child of God". I remember that at the time I was doing my third year, I was very determined to do well and score high grades, but unfortunately, when "Jesus" came, everything else took a second seat so much so that I dropped my grades even though I was able to pass”

The experience did not deter or cause Nosipho to question her faith instead it made her even more fervent and devout:  

A Black South African Woman’s Journey to Atheism

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