UGANDA’S TOP MUSLIM LEADERSHIP FORFEITS NAME ‘Col. GADAFFI’ FROM A MOSQUE HE BUILT
By: Abubakar Sematimba
The new Libyan leader, Premier Ali Zeidan was highly anticipated to make a maiden visit to Uganda last year 2013. The development compelled Uganda's top Muslim leadership to drop the name “Col Gadaffi” from a mosque he built to please the visitor. However, he failed to make the trip.
The mosque, arguably one of the biggest in Africa, was 100% financed by resources from the Libyan government, under the influence of the now late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
The new administration in Tripoli had suspended Aid to UMSC, asking Mufti Shaban Ramandan Mubaje's administration to disassociate from the Gadafi legacy.
In one of the meetings leading to this decision, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) Executive which is the 2nd highest organ after the General Assembly, headed by the Chairman Dr Balonde, resolved that the name be changed.
But the decision was ironically opposed by three out of the 22 members. Chairman Balonde also opposed the resolution.
Mufti Mubaje explained to the meeting that official documentations of the mosque, such as bank accounts were in the name of Uganda National Mosque and not Gadafi National Mosque.
Reliable sources had it that, controversy over the mosque name, was the only stumbling block from UMSC to begin receiving Libyan petrol dollars, as was the case during the Gadafi reign. Hence, with the name issue having been cleared, UMSC expected to warmly host Premier Zeidan.
It was also alleged that Mr Zeidan was to lead a delegation of business men to Uganda, therefore, if the Muslim council's executive could agree, to go away with Gadafi's name, as the government of Libya was consistently demanding, then it could do a lot of good for the Mubajje administration, to get relief from the Tripoli regime.
All materials ranging from books, charts and photos of Gadafi were removed from the U.M.S.C headquarters; some employees of the council also lost their jobs.
The council could not manage to pay their salaries, and this was due to its reluctance to abide by what the Tripoli government asked for, 'removing the name Gadafi' on the mosque, however, the economic hardship finally forced the executive to succumb.
The saga of mosque brought more problems to the already divided Uganda Muslim community, with some suggesting that it was ok to change the Mosque name, and others calling the move ludicrous.
The spokesperson of umsc Alhaji Nsereko Mutumba was heard asking what is the raison d'être behind the whole issue.
The question which remained un answered up today is, if Prime Minister Ali Zeidan comes to Uganda one day as it is anticipated, will he come to the headquarters of umsc, and if yes, what about the Gadafi Street, which was named before the late Colonel some years back, will the Uganda government remove, cover or change the Sign post before the Libyan premier can enter the Mosque, it remains a big debate.