Some Africans have embraced Islam. They belong to diverse sects. Others have embraced Christianity. They also belong to diverse sects. There are those who have their traditional religions. There are those who embrace other religions or philosophies .
History has records of states which classified themselves as atheist states which became intolerant of beliefs. This led to rebellion by those who had faith. They have discovered that no state could force its people to embrace any philosophy or belief. There are also states with citizens who embrace different religions which become manifest in their loyalties when it comes to the running of state. This often leads to friction, conflict and sectarian violence .
How do we put an end to such violence? The answer is simple. The secular state makes it possible for citizens from diverse religious and philosophical backgrounds to represent or be represented by the other without being very particular about their differences. Beliefs are transformed into rights to uphold and practise at one’s own volition without interference from anyone.
This is why Section 25 of the 1997 constitution states: “Every person shall have the right to freedom to practise any religion and to manifest such practice.”
Hence there is no compulsion in religion, philosophy or beliefs.
Section 100 adds: “The National Assembly shall not pass a Bill to establish any religion as a state religion.”
The Gambia therefore is a secular state. It is left to the reader to dismiss the fact or take note.
If Africa is to unite the secular democratic Republic must be the model that could ensure inclusiveness and eradicate sectarian violence.