Seth Mahiga

Former Atheists in Kenya Society secretary-general Seth Mahiga at Nation Centre in Nairobi on June 14. 

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Former atheist in crisis of faith after ‘finding Jesus’

What you need to know:

  • Seth Mahiga served as the secretary-general of Atheists in Kenya Society for about two years before he quit.
  • President of the atheists' society, Harrison Mumia, wished Mahiga “the best with his newfound Lord Jesus Christ”.

In religion, it is said scepticism breeds unbelief, and that is the case for Seth Mahiga, who recently declared publicly he had ditched atheism and returned to his first love, Jesus Christ.

He became arguably the latest apostate when he resigned from the Atheists in Kenya Society, where he served as secretary-general for about two years, saying he had found Jesus Christ and was no longer interested in promoting atheism.

Interestingly, the president of the society, Harrison Mumia, while announcing his resignation, wished Mahiga “the best with his newfound Lord Jesus Christ”. The statement sounded sarcastic to some Kenyans on social media, considering that the group is irreligious and does not believe in the existence of Jesus or any deity.

The Sunday Nation sought to understand the world of Mahiga, the self-professed theologian. And as he sits across the table in one of the boardrooms at the Nation Media Group, he cuts the figure of a geek. He is an investigative mind, hard to tickle and somehow narcissistic by his admission. 

Raised a Christian in the Jehovah’s Witness church in his Kaimosi home in Vihiga County, Mahiga travelled the world for studies and realised, to his amazement, the popularity of atheism.

In countries like Belgium, he began to note that morality was not necessarily based on religion or spirituality.

“I was in Belgium, Norway, Holland and Switzerland where people are not religious, but disciplined and straight-forward. My friends used to question why my country is one of the most religious in Africa, but there’s so much crime, corruption, disorganisation and uncleanliness,” he recalls.

It was then, nearly a decade ago, that his religious scepticism set in. The medical laboratory technician, who now practises investigative journalism, started researching atheism and other aspects of religion.

Damascus moment

And when the society of atheists in Kenya declared a vacancy for the position of secretary-general, he threw his hat in the ring, faced a panel of about 10 and convinced them that he would transform the organisation with his wide world view.

And by the admission of his president, Mahiga did such a splendid job of mobilising the 5,000 registered members to fellowship together, and taking minutes of their meetings, which would happen weekly in-person, with others attending virtually.

He also coordinated the group’s engagements with partners such as Humanist International and donors locally and worldwide.

In society, members mostly undertook humanitarian activities such as feeding the needy and educating the children of the less fortunate.

“Atheists are not wired to a particular faith. They believe in scientific research and practical ways for solving problems that affect society. They’re accommodative to the various scientific stands the members take,” explains the married father.

What exactly was the Damascus moment for the religious sceptic? His response was underwhelming, but one has no choice but to buy it since only his newfound Jesus can search his heart.

Mahiga says he quit because he had concluded researching about atheists, which was the main reason he joined the organisation, to begin with.

“I could not continue to work with them because my journey of discovery had brought me to a place of transition,” he said.

Faith in Jesus Christ

Further, he says he had never lost his faith in Jesus in the first place. All along, deep inside, he believed in the biblical story of creation by God in the book of Genesis, and the ultimate resurrection of all in new bodies in the judgement times, and enjoyment of everlasting glory of God in heaven for the righteous, as the sinners burn in hell.

The fruits of his research, he says, will be manifested in the planned December release of two books meant to explain what atheism entails. 

That begs another question; was he a mole in society? He answers to the contrary. He says it was morally okay to immerse himself into the organisation for research purposes.

“I wasn’t an atheist per se. I was an atheist. People confuse being agnostic (doubt the existence of supernatural beings), atheist (believe with certainty that there’s no supernatural being) and theists (believes in a supernatural being),” he explained.

Following his revelation, the atheists’ president said their major challenge has been finding modalities to tell whether incoming members are truly non-believers as they claim.

“The reason he gave for leaving is that the life of an atheist was hollow and he was seeking fulfilment in Jesus. It could also be that he was here to research, we can’t tell for sure, since he came in claiming to be an atheist,” Mumia told the Sunday Nation on phone.

For Mahiga, inquisitiveness is part of his DNA and religion is his favourite subject. Growing up, he attended Kaimosi Primary, then Muhila Secondary in his home county before pursuing a diploma in laboratory technology science at the University of Nairobi. He then proceeded to do a degree at Gaborone University in Botswana before going to Belgium.

“I question everything. When I meet pastors, I ask about the qualifications of a deacon. The Bible clearly says it should be someone of one wife, but some churches contradict,” he said.

Satanic cult

Joining atheism didn’t go down well with some family members and friends, some of who severed ties with him. But he insists that their reaction is influenced by the generally negative attitude towards irreligion in Kenya.

Only a few bought his explanation that he was in it for research. Others said he had joined Illuminati, a satanic cult. But serving any deity is what atheists despise, he reminded them.

“People sometimes think I am crazy,” he said of his religious stand. “They were happy though when I resigned. They called to congratulate me.”

On May 30, one of his friends welcomed him to a church, where he spoke briefly for the first time about the goings-on in his life. In the 30 seconds video from a sermon that was aired on Elevate Television, Mahiga disclosed he had been going through several difficulties in life, prompting him to bow his knee and confess that Jesus is Lord.

“Some of these days, I have been going through some difficulties in life, then I decided to resign as the secretary,” said Mahiga amid applause from the congregation. 

When we asked him what difficulties he was going through, he simply responded that he was suffering a disturbed conscience.

Mahiga is now in a crisis of faith. Having left atheism, he is at a crossroads, which he calls a difficult transition. He doesn’t wish to go back to Jehovah’s Witness, neither has he settled for any particular church to worship in.

All he knows is that it’s time to continue researching in the field of religion. His search and research continue.