By Haji Nsereko Mutumba
In part one of the landmark Islamic events in Uganda, I shared President Idi Amin’s historical reasons behind his decision to allocate the Old Kampala Hill to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) as stated in his address during the inauguration of UMSC on Thursday, June 1st, 1972 at the Uganda International Conference Centre.
Today, I want to take you through the hopes and dreams President Amin had for what Old Kampala Hill could become for Ugandan Muslims and ask whether they have been fulfilled:
In his speech, President Amin explained, “The top and undeveloped area, of Old Kampala Hill, which I have personally inspected, covers an area of 12 acres. I do not want the spot where Captain Lugard first raised the British flag to be disturbed in any way, because it is historically very important, and I so direct. Subject to this direction, the Government has donated the whole of the twelve acres of land on Old Kampala Hill to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.”
President Amin went on to lay out his vision, “This will enable the supreme council to build its Headquarters there, housing the Secretariat of the council, and the offices, and perhaps residences of its national leaders, I would also like to have on this land, a Mosque and a Jaamiu-Esalaamia which is the highest institution of learning in the Islamic faith, and which I hope in time will have branches in other parts of Uganda. The standard of this institution is equivalent to that of a university. This institution will be open to persons from other parts of the world, especially Africa, Asia and Latin America. There are many things to construct on a mere 12 acres of land but I am sure by constructing buildings of several stories those objectives can be achieved”.
Uganda’s president then appreciated that, “The Supreme Council will need a good deal of money in order to have these projects realized. Given good organisation, the willingness of Muslims and other persons in Uganda to donate generously, and possibly, assistance from friendly countries, I am sure it will not be too long before we see all these things standing in Old Kampala Hill.”
Approaching the end of his speech, Amin noted, “I have played my part in trying to put religious affairs in order. I have done it for the Church of Uganda and I have done it for the cause of Islam in this country. With the establishment of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, I say to all Moslems in this country; it is all yours. Do not let slip the wonderful opportunities that are to present themselves through the activities of the supreme council. I wish the Uganda Muslim supreme Council all the best in whatever they will do for the benefit of Muslims in Uganda.”
He reminded all present, “This gathering here today is historic, since it unites people in the Muslim faith who could not sit or eat together, or even talk to one another, the Moslems in Uganda were in the past so divided that they cannot do anything but thank God for this brotherhood and unity. All this has been possible because of the power of God, and we must all do everything to maintain this unity in the Moslem faith.”
A new UMSC chapter was opened on June 1st, 2001 during the swearing in ceremony of Shk. Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje as the Mufti of Uganda. It was not an ordinary swearing in. It was a special swearing in ceremony because it was also a unifying event for Muslims.
It was on this occasion that President Yoweri Museveni who was the guest of honour announced his full support to Muslims, now that they were all united under UMSC.
He recommended the H.E the Mufti of Uganda Shk. Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje to Col. Gaddafi, who later constructed the magnificent monument at Old Kampala which now serves as the National Mosque (Gaddafi Mosque) and UMSC Headquarters offices.
Colonel Gaddafi also constructed official residence of the Mufti of Uganda, and supported the establishment of the Islamic Call University College (ICUC) which is now fully operational.
Therefore, I can confidently and proudly state that the dream that President Amin had in 1972 has come true, and of all times, I am glad that, it has been fulfilled during the leadership of General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as the President of Uganda, and His Eminence Shk. Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje as the Mufti of Uganda.
Both leaders have not only shown strong commitment to Muslim unity and development; they have actually taken strong steps and sacrificed a lot to fulfill the dream of Muslim unity and development.
On top of the above milestones, the current UMSC administration constructed the commercial perimeter around the National Mosque which generates income for the council and houses several UMSC projects which include the Hospital, the population program, UNICEF program and the medical bureau among others.
UMSC has also set up Radio Bilal which is based at the Headquarters, as well as the tourism project, which is another source of income for the council.
All the above projects were made possible by the good relations between the current UMSC administration and the current government of Uganda.
Thanks to them and to the late President Amin, UMSC is now strong and Muslim unity and development is now a reality.
I urge His Eminence the Mufti of Uganda to beware of individuals who claim to be his loyal servants, yet they are undermining this hard earned unity and development, in pursuance of their personal goals.
Personally, I would like to note that I’m glad to have been part of the UMSC administration that started from scratch in 2001 to a strong institution that boasts of all the above developments.
I’m grateful to Allah that the 15 plus years that I have served the council ending June 1, 2020, were not in vain.
I ask all those who are still serving and those who will come after to help the Mufti and council consolidate these gains and go ahead to bring more developments to what he now refers to as New Kampala Hill.
Haji Nsereko Mutumba is the former public relations officer of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council