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Uganda Muslims Got A Raw Deal From President Museveni

By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
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As I have been saying all along, I'm not against the old Muslim brothers who never had formal education. These people are themselves educated in some way –through various experiences they have gone through in their lives, and of which they can pass on to everybody around them.Actually, I respect them so much and I would love to see them in more positions of responsibility both politically and religiously that are suiting to them. For instance, I believe there is a lot to learn from the likes of Hajji Nasser Ssebagala, Hajji Kibirige( BMK) ,Hajji Mbabali, Mustapha Kafeero, e.t.c. despite lack of formal education. These guys form some of the cream of the richest people in the country yet they never had serious formal education.

The ''BANAMASAKAs'' are some of the richest owners of buildings in Kampala but most of them are just primary school leavers. So it would be good if we find a way of bringing them on board on various issues without necessarily making them our role models. Since Muslims were not historically into formal education, I would love the few educated Muslims now to remain at the forefront of almost everything as a way of inspiring other the new generation to value education.

Some Muslims look at old guards as stumbling blocks to changing the outlook of the Muslim Ummar. The young ones believe that Muslims can achieve so much if the old guards don't interfere so much and the vice versa is true. The problem is that the old guards are not reasonably ready to let go though I think it would be better for everybody if we kind of strike a balance between the old and new. Most of the young Muslim leaders are kind of 'spiritually broken' and 'morally adrift' compared to the old guards. So we need at least a system that keeps everybody in check, and I believe it can be built basing on the 'KASAVU- KANYAMA'( fat- meat) theory. In other words, we need almost everybody on board if we are to move forward.

With the 'fat-meat' theory, it will be easy to calm things down between the 'progressive' collectivist forces, and those trying to uphold the stabilizing traditions of the Muslim traditions in Uganda. For instance, I think this theory has started working perfectly at Mengo Kingdom as we have seen the Kabaka over the last few years coming up with a cabinet and Lukiiko that have got both the youths and old guards in them. The Kabaka brought a smile on my face when I saw some of my UAH friends especially Kalundi Sserumaga as one of the members in Lukiiko.

On the issue of Muslim representatives, Yes, Muslims are less in numbers than both the Catholics and Protestants in the country but this does not mean that they should be under looked when the president is appointing people in government positions. Nobody should deceive you that religion and tribe never comes to mind when the president is appointing people in cabinet positions or anywhere in public service. For instance, it is widely known that both Bukenya and Ssekandi were appointed VP as a way of getting both the Catholics and Baganda on the president's side. Did it work? We gonna have to ask the president this because I don't know, but the appointment was made. So Muslims have not been happy for a while because they have never had a Muslim: VP, PM, Chief justice, Speaker of parliament, Katikiro, URA boss, Minister of Oil, or any of the powerful positions in government. Apart from the EC chairman docket, there is really nothing in Museveni's government for Muslims to proudly speak of. They also need political role models, don't they??

This issue is not talked about in Uganda alone, for instance, in 2007, USA's Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, was sworn into office using the Quran instead of the traditional bible, but this issue raised eyebrows among some people. The guy had converted to Islam and therefore saw no need to swear on bible anymore but I guess some voters didn't know it before they voted for him.

Secondly, all governments all over the world encourage religious organizations to have Muslim representatives they can deal with. For instance, in France, a Muslim national advisory body was purposely created to address issues like the training of clerics and to act as the Muslim representative in dealing with the government. Unfortunately, Muslims are divided into more than three sects in Uganda but fortunately, the president recognizes and deals with one of the sects that are based at Old Kampala. So, some Muslims are fairly asking if he consulted with Mufti Mubajje( leader of the Muslim Sect at Old Kampala) before he nominated some Muslims into his cabinet, because it is believed that the president sometimes consults some Catholics leaders before he comes up with a name for presidency.

I also think we should go slowly on separating religion from politics because I think this is what is replicated in the people questioning this approach. Some people tend to say that religions are by definitions 'cults' thus these irrational and unscientific belief systems pollute any political process with absurdity and mental numbness. So they believe to solve problems and get along with each other, we need a clear mind that can reason and calculate with facts, not made up myths. They want someone to be appointed in any cabinet or job because they qualify for it not because they are Catholics or Muslims.

However, I have seen enough under president Museveni and NRM to now see that politics can become a supernatural cult, complete with a belief in miracles. So, every reason some people against religion being mixed with politics say- can fit exactly into politics. So for now, politics and religion do mix just fine and dandy. When one becomes a leader anywhere in Uganda, one must put into consideration people's religious, cultural and tribal considerations till when the society will eventually change itself to something different.

What, therefore, presidents: Museveni and late Obote, have been doing when it comes to cabinet appointments is unfair to Muslims. Obote never gave us a good deal when he was president and Museveni is doing the same. We have got a lot of capable Muslims that can be effective as Vice presidents, Prime ministers, speakers; you name it, even better than the Bukenyas and Mbabazis. I can put my money on that! Muslims are now hoping that the president will consider them when appointing his new ambassadors, permanent secretaries or other important posts anywhere in public service.

Byebyo ebyange
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
United Kingdom!/semuwemba