The Atheists In Kenya Society is an atheist organization, registered under the Societies Act in Kenya. It is the first non-religious society to be registered in the country. We are a member organization of Humanists International.
The society was established in Nairobi, Kenya, on February 17, 2016. Harrison Mumia is the founder and the current president of the society. The society is housed at Cargen House, Nairobi.
In 2013, a group of Kenyans met with the aim of establishing a non-religious society in Kenya. They held informal meetings in various restaurants in Nairobi and made use of social media, especially Facebook to engage with like-minded Kenyans. This group included Ssemakula Mukiibi, Zack Wanambwa, Elizabeth Wangari, Ellen Mical, and Beatrice Mwikya. In 2015, they applied for registration of the society, which was first rejected by the then Deputy Registrar of Societies in Kenya.
On 14th January 2016, the Office of the Registrar of Societies formally wrote a letter refusing to Register AIK. The grounds for which the registration has been denied were flimsy. She stated that “The interests of peace and welfare or good order in Kenya would be likely to suffer prejudice by registering AIK.” Atheists In Kenya Society was clearly being discriminated against. The atheists began working on a lawsuit to compel the Office of the Registrar to register AIK.
In February, the government issued Atheists in Kenya a Certificate of recognition. We received the certificate on April 7, nearly a year after we had applied for it.
Nearly a month later, on April 30, the then-attorney general, Prof. Githu Muigai released a statement suspending our registration, citing complaints from religious organizations. This became news and received a lot of media coverage in Kenya and around the world.
Harrison Mumia then took the case to the High Court of Kenya, where he challenged the suspension. In 2018, the High Court of Kenya quashed the suspension and had the society reinstated.
The objects of the society are:
- To promote and practice the open, rational, and scientific examination of the universe and our place in it.
- To advocate that ethics and morality be meaningfully based on rational and humanistic ideals and values.
- To promote skeptical inquiry.
- To provide a community for atheists.
- To organize activities, such as forums for discussion, guest speakers, and debates.
- To foster public acceptance of atheists in Kenya.
- To engage in social issues affecting its membership and the wider community.
What is atheism?
Atheism is not devil worship
Atheism is in the broadest sense an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.
Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.
The etymological root for the word atheism originated before the 5th century BCE from the ancient Greek (atheos), meaning “without god(s)”. In antiquity, it had multiple uses as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshiped by the larger society, those who were forsaken by the gods, or those who had no commitment to belief in the gods.
The term denoted a social category created by orthodox religionists into which those who did not share their religious beliefs were placed.
The actual term atheism emerged first in the 16th century. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves using the word atheist lived in the 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment. The French Revolution noted for its “unprecedented atheism”, witnessed the first major political movement in history to advocate for the supremacy of human reason.
We are committed to secularism
As a society, we are committed to secularism – the principle that, in a plural, open society where people follow many different religious and non-religious ways of life, the communal institutions that we share (and together pay for) should provide a neutral public space where we can all meet on equal terms.
We hold the belief that this life is the only life we have, that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. We trust the scientific method, evidence, and reason to discover truths about the universe and place human welfare and happiness at the center of our ethical decision-making.
Many millions of people in Kenya share this way of living and of looking at the world.
Did you know that Kenya has over 700,000 atheists?
More than 700,000 Kenyans are atheists, according to an additional report of the 2019 Population Census Report released in 2019 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
The report, which gives an insight into the Kenyan population based on their religious beliefs, shows that 755,750 Kenyans do not believe in God. The final census report shows there are 15,777,473 protestants in Kenya, the majority religious group. The number of Catholics is 9,726,169.
The journey to recognition
Where It All Began
In 2014, a group of Kenyans came together under the umbrella of free thinkers. They held regular meetings in Nairobi focused on challenging religious faith.
Registration and suspension
In February 17th 2016, the Government of Kenya registered the atheists in Kenya Society. In April the same year, the government suspended our registration.
In June 2016, Harrison Mumia moved to the High Court to challenge the suspension of the atheists in Kenya society, citing the 2010 Constitution.
In February, 2018, the High Court ruled that the Government of Kenya erred in suspending the atheists in Kenya society. The suspension was quashed.
In January 2019, we held our fist election. An executive committee was elected by members. Harrison Mumia was elected President.
Support for Idriss Lutta
In February 2020, we paid school fees for Idriss Lutta, a student whose mother was unable to raise school fees for his bright son.