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I dug up some photographs from my recent trip to the UK. I thought I’d share with you some interesting things I saw in the city of Cardiff while I was there.

From afar it looked like a church:

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Closer inspection revealed that it was actually a shop!

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Care for Durex condoms? No problem…

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…just check right below the hookah (sheesha pipe).

This shop actually used to be a Presbyterian Church, once upon a time. People stopped going, and it got sold off.

Now it’s a shop.


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In early October 2011, I engaged in a tour of the UK and Ireland to give talks on the topic: The Rise of Skepticism in Uganda.

The talk I gave in London for the British Humanist Association (mp3 here) was reviewed in The Guardian, by Matthew Cresswell, who was among those in attendance.

Atheist Ugandan works his magic on British humanists He wrote:

An atheist talkshow host and 12 "like-minded people" are attempting to tackle superstition, mysticism and witchcraft in Uganda. James "Fat Boy" Onen is an on-air presenter for Sanyu FM and a co-founder of Freethought Kampala. Through Facebook campaigns, newspaper articles and regular monthly meetings, Onen believes Freethought Kampala is providing the only rational platform for tackling superistition in Uganda.

This month, Onen has been speaking at events around the UK after being invited by the British Humanist Association (BHA). Addressing small gatherings, he said everyday Ugandans were over-reliant on a "mixed bag" of belief in black magic and Pentecostal Christianity.

Cresswell also talked to a researcher called Joanna Sadgrove, who expressed her doubts about my portrayal of religion in Uganda:

Commenting on the talks, Joanna Sadgrove, a specialist in African Christianity who has researched in Uganda for 15 years, said Onen did not capture the diversity of expression of religion in Africa. "There are religious leaders who capitalise on people who don’t have control over their lives. There are also Christians who are doing good works in Ugandan society and being part of a community of faith."

I wish to respond to Joanna Sadgrove’s comments.

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Between the 5th and 14th of October 2011 I embarked on a tour of the UK and Ireland, to meet with skeptics, atheists and humanists to share my experiences of being a skeptic in Uganda.

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Background

The speaking tour was coordinated by Dr. Adam Corner of Cardiff University, who I met here in Kampala while he was carrying out research on public attitudes about climate change in Uganda. Having had some experience interacting with some UK-based skeptic groups before coming to Uganda, he told me he was of the view that some of these groups he knew might be interested in hearing about what Freethought Kampala was doing in Uganda. He then asked me if I’d consider travelling to the UK to give some talks on the subject. I told him I would, if anybody was interested. I was skeptical that anyone would be, to be honest.

Dr. Corner proceeded to contact the British Humanist Association, as well as Skeptics in the Pub groups from Lewes, Dublin, Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh – all of whom expressed an interest in getting involved with the speaking tour. When he informed me that everything was set, I was indeed shocked and amazed. I arranged to get some time off from work during the period that I’d be travelling, and applied for the respective visas.

I also began preparing my presentation, which I called:

The Rise of Skepticism in Uganda

And that’s how it happened.

The travel  and accommodation expenses for myself and Dr. Corner (effectively my tour manager – there to ensure that I found my way around the country) were graciously met through contributions from each of the 6 groups we were to visit.

Departure

I set off from Uganda on the afternoon of Tuesday, 4th October, 2011.

I arrived at Heathrow Airport on the morning of the 5th of October. Dr. Corner was waiting for me there. We boarded a bus and embarked on a 5 hour trip to Cardiff, Wales – for the first talk.

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