GOVERNMENTS AND ISLAM: WHEN WILL THE INTERFEARANCE END
By Abubakar Sematimba
What happened on Thursday the 27th of April 2012 at old Kampala Mosque, when a group of worrying Muslims of the so called supreme Mufti Zubair Kayongo from Kibuli under the command of sheikh Noah Hamza Muzaata Batte rushed after Juma prayers to capture and siege the National Muslim headquarters at old Kampala was history repeating it's self.
Government involvement in the Muslim affairs can not be given a blind eye or go without being noticed.
This act can be traced as far back as 1970s during Idd Amin's reign and even before Amin, however, our area of research will be taken from Idd Amin's reign to present day Uganda.
Amin abolished all the small Muslim organizations, like National association for the advancement of Muslims, 'NAAM', Bukoto Nateete, juma and zukuli and ordered that, there must be only one leadership for Muslims, hence the emergency of UMSC in 1971.
As a Muslim Idd Amin is credited for having united the worrying Muslims of Uganda but government interference can not be under looked.
President Amin gave the Council a secular Constitution that was prepared by Solicitor General Mukambo Mugerwa, he also requested the position of Deputy Chief Qadhi, and lastly placed the council in the hands of his secretary for defence Col. Emilio Mondo a non Muslim.
During Milton Obote's regime Government continued to interfere in the Muslim affairs.
Militon Obote sided with Sheikh Obeid Kamulegeya , and Paul muwanga Obote's vice president was a close ally of Sheikh Kasim Mulumba ,whose headquarters being at Lubaga Road and his group was being referred to as 'Abakkabalaza' meaning those who had no were to perform prayers but on veranda
In 1984 When the Mulumba faction left William street mosque plot 30, to Rubaga road mosque, they were named 'abaakataba' meaning those in the pond.
They were chased by Milton Obote's Nsaba Butoro, the Kampala District commissioner by then, escorted by Sheikh Abdul Obed Kamulegeya.
In 1984 a group of Muslim youths well trained in martial arts, organised to topple the leadership of Uganda Muslim supreme council.
They surrounded the headquarters of the council at dawn, holding among other things, pangs, stones, oranges.
They had been training for quite a very long time at Nateete Police station ground, an outskirt of Kampala city every evening.
These youth controlled the (U.M.S.C) premises for hours, their grievance and voice was heard all over the world on Radio station like BBC, however, there mission was short lived.
The Government sent Military police to forcefully remove the Militant youth from the premises, and many including the ring leaders, like Sheikh Mukulu as he is affectionately called were arrested, and taken to Luzira prison.
Other youth members managed to escape from the premises of UMSC, by jumping the wall behind the then Muslim Mosque.
''After realising that we have made an impact, and we don't have enough logistics and personnel to continue with our mission. Our commander ordered us to withdraw, so we rushed to jump the wall, and managed to escape''. Sheikh Musa who was in the force narrates the story.
Paul Muwanga the then Obote vice president, using his influence ordered the release of these youth.
In the Nineties another group of Tablik Muslims from Nakasero headed by out spoken Sheikh, Jamiilu Mukulu, Alirabaki and Yunusu Kamoga invaded the council again.
The Government sent police officers to remove these youth forcefully from the council premises, however, there was a deadly scuffle, and a police officer lost his eye, also many police dogs were slaughtered.
From this day, the name referring to these youth by the people on the street changed, from Batabliki to Batta police, meaning the police killers.
Those youth who where surrounded where taken to Luzira Prison, where they spent more than a year, until they were released on the influence of the late Attorney General and a Muslim, Abubakar Kakyama Mayanja.
After the scuffle that very night president Museveni addressed the nation and these where his words that day, from an angry looking president on a national Television. 'In the Army when you shoot at us we do the same'.
It seems the youth where lucky to surrender to the Military men that day, otherwise, it seems the order was to shoot at those who will make any kind of resistance.
In 1999, President Museveni appointed Judge Kanyihamba to mediate Mufti Luwemba and Sheikh Kakooza Rajab, the meeting was held in Mbarara, and certain issues where agreed upon.
It was agreed upon in the meeting that both Luwemba and kakooza will step down, and a new leader will be appointed.
Mufti Luwemba did not honour the outcomes of Mbarara meeting; he refused to relinquish power to Ahmed Mukasa who was appointed as an interim Mufti.
I remember it was on Friday January 1999 at old Kampala Mosque, after Juma prayers, Mufti Luwemba addressed the congregation and this is what he said.
'Abo abaagala okweeyingiza mu nsonga z'obusiraamu bagende bamale okubatayilira' meaning that those who want to interfere in the Muslim affairs they have to go for circumcision first.
In Uganda circumcision was only perceived to be a Muslims practice, and another tribe called Bagisu from the eastern part of the country.
Government's intension of dividing the Muslims of Uganda is also evidenced in a shameful scuffle that happened in 1993 on Independence Day cerebrations at Kololo ground.
Two invitation letters where issued to both Mufti Luwemba and Ahmed Mukasa, and when the master of ceremony Kintu musoke called the Muslim leader 'Mufti' to come and address the nation, he did not specify who had to talk, what happened its history that will never be forgotten.
Down is an extract from Sheikh Ahmed Mukasa's interview by one journalist Hamza from the defunct Torch Magazine, the sheikh briefly gives us some light on what happened on that day.
SHEIKH MUKASA: It was 1993 and I got an invitation to attend the celebrations in the capacity of Mufti. They had invited one religious leader from each faith; it's only in the Muslim faith where they invited two. The MC was Kintu Musoke. When I saw Luwemba around, I called Kintu and told him to give me the opportunity to lead the prayer and he accepted.
On calling the Mufti, Luwemba stood immediately. Because I had not escorted Luwemba on the function, I stood with my deputy, Zubair Kayongo, my Secretary General Hajj Jumba Masagazi, and headed for the microphone. Hardly had I reached the microphone, than Luwemba short up and kicked and forcefully took the microphone from me.
HAMZA: Wasn't that embarrassing to the Muslim community? What did president Museveni say on the incident?
SHEIKH MUKASA: The President laughed and said he only thought its heaven fought for by clerics, not the microphone.
HAMZA: Only one religious leader had been invited from other faiths, why did they invite two from the Muslim Community?
SHEIHK MUKASA: I do not know about that, perhaps that was their plan.
Reliable sources have it that on one of the occasions, Muft Luwemba cautioned President Museveni to stop interfering in the Muslim affairs, and he told the president that he, Luwemba can be the president of Uganda but Museveni will never be the Muslim supreme leader.
To take you a bit back president Museveni invited the Asians to come back and invest in Uganda.
The government promised to give back their property, which was 'wrongly' taken away by Idd Amin, when he expelled them in 1972.
The Government of Uganda under president Museveni, asked the then Mufti Sheikh Rajab Kakooza, to give away all the property that belonged to the Indian community, including the Uganda Muslim supreme council headquarters at Old Kampala.
Sheikh kakooza was hesitant to sign out the Muslim property, and the government contacted the power angry now late sheikh, Saad Ibrahim Luwemba who responded by giving away almost every thing.
Mufti Luwemba with help from the government, erected a temporary playing Mosque at Old Kampala Hill, and the Government gave Luwemba the title for the land which was donated to the Muslims of Uganda, by the late President Idd Amin Dada.
On the Labour Day the 1st of May 2013 president Museveni While in Gulu, promised to meet the worrying Muslims, and he did exactly that.
On the 4th of May 2012 Museveni invited Mufti Mubajje of Uganda Muslim supreme council, and the Supreme Mufti Zubair Kayongo of Kibuli faction, to his Rwakitura home to look for avenue of 'uniting' them, a committee was appointed and the out comes are still being awaited up to present day.
For how long will it take the Muslims to realise that, none other than them selves can sit down, and solve their own differences, using the Quran and Hadith of our beloved Prophet peace be unto him.
History has not taught the Muslims of Uganda a lesson that the Government uses divide and rule policy to manage them.
It is alleged that before his death, Paul Muwanga former Obote vice president said that, never and never allow Muslims to be united.
Muwanga really maintained his legacy during his life, as a vice president to Obote he was with Sheikh Kasim Mulumba, and Milton Obote supported Sheikh obed Kamulegeya.
Indeed he left the Muslims of Uganda divided but for how long will this Cancer/Phenomenal last.