Posted: Tue, April 03, 2018 | By: Cameroon
It was indeed another wonderful and unexpressed privilege to conduct another critical thinking workshop in Cameroon by ESARDEF. This time it was conducted in a community vocational training center at West Coast District based on the approved BBI guide – iDOUBT. It started at about 10:48 am with 21 young girls and women with 01 volunteer and 01 staff of ESARDEF.
After an introduction was made by all present, Mr. Mbeng gave participants an insight of the workshop, its necessity, and later asks them to relax while feeling free to express whatever doubts they have as to their religions, traditional practices and other forms of beliefs. He further cautioned that the workshop tagged ‘‘Critical Thinking Beyond Borders’’ is to help them get off some malpractices that have hindered their development as well as kept them in the captivity of poverty believing that someone or funny spirit somewhere will get them out of poverty rather than them working out the solution themselves. Before presenting the five lessons of iDOUBT he asked some probing questions to the participants which were:
Why do you belief in what you belief?
What makes you belief in what you belief?
How is your belief helpful to you, your family and community?
These questions produced dead air for about a minute among participants reflecting on their beliefs and practices especially as a coastal community with so much superstitions relating to water, plants and humans. After presenting the five lessons and conducting the exercises and making sure all participated in them, Mr. Mbeng now gave the floor to participants fordiscussions and interactions based on their beliefs. It was indeed a wonderful experience as everyone was ready to speak out.
Participants all agreed that is good to apply Critical thinking in all human actions especially before such action or belief it accepted as truism, therefore critical thinking remains part and parcel of real life situations. As such, religions should be questionable in order to arrive at valid judgments.
On answering the first question: Why do you belief in what you belief?
Majority of the participants said, they grew up in believing in what they believed till before the workshop. Before the workshop, is a taboo to question the existence of all sorts of spirits and whatever is told of them, is true. For instance, they believed that the sea has mermaids who should be worshiped by all coastal community dwellers in the areas especially fishermen if they wish for a good catch. To them, is a sign of ill luck for fishermen if women with menstrual flow are allowed to bathe in the river, sea or streams. They also believed that a pregnant woman should not bathe or urinate in the sea for the fear of putting to bed a mermaid. These and some other beliefs like the coming of another messiah called Jesus to rescue mankind is some of the beliefs expressed by the participants during the workshop and now belief them to be lies.
On answering the second question: What makes you belief in what you belief? Some few unanimously said they don’t know what makes them to belief in what they belief, they were strictly told to belief what they belief, if not you are to be treated as an enemy to the spirits or gods, so for the fear of isolation to enjoy social inclusion they found themselves believing in all what they belief which to them the workshop has made them to realized is not true.
Finally, they accepted that they don’t know how helpful is their beliefs to them, family nor community, because most youths are still jobless even those who are fishermen still live extremely below the UN poverty line. Those doing farming still sleep hungry without for days while malnutrition remains the order of the day for the poor with extensive poor harvest year in and year out. They appreciated BBI for such wonderful eye opening and attested that although such teachings are taboo to the coastal communities, they all declare such beliefs to be untrue especially as they cannot be proven even by those who initiated them. They were encouraged to apply critical thinking on a daily basis to know what to belief and what not to belief on. The workshop ended at 12:17 with light refreshments.
(report submitted by ESARDEF)