By Zziwa Ashiraf
By 1978, Ugandan political dissidents in conjunction with the late Tanzanian President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and other Western Powers had scaled up military preparations towards ejecting Gen. Amin from State power.
As part of their war strategy, they approached various Christian establishments especially the mainstream Catholic and Anglican clergy who had long detested the growth of Islam.
They viewed the formation of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council as a threat as several members of their flock started embracing Islam.
As a result, the Church Leaders resorted instilling hatred and discord among their flock against Islam and Muslims in general.
The Church leaders also authored many Anti-Islamic literature such as “I love Idi Amin,” penned by the late Rt. Rev Festo Kivengere then the Bishop of Kigezi Diocese.
In this book, Kivengere claimed that on his royal visit to Uganda in 1972, His Majesty King Feisal Bin Abdu Aziiz Al Soudi of Saudi Arabia presented to President Amin a gift in form of golden sword that was implying the forceful Islamization of all Ugandans”
The hate propaganda tickled down to ordinary masses especially Christians. When Tanzanian forces managed to break through the defense lines of Amin’s soldiers, a unit of Ugandan dissidents under the command of the late Edward Rurangaranga, a prominent UPC Stalwart in Ankole was assigned to take on the western axis covering Districts in Ankole, Toro and Bunyoro.
Rurangaranga made an infamous statement at an Anti-Amin rally in Bushenyi saying Ttwatema Omuti Mwiheho Amashanju” literally meaning that “We have managed to cut the big tree (read Amin) so it is your turn to chop off the branches (Muslims)”. Rurangaranga argued Christians to revenge on Muslims for the wrong acts committed by Amin.
The masses received the message and organized hit squads targeting their Muslim neighbors and relatives. That marked the beginning of the indiscriminate killing of Muslims across the country. Children, women, the elderly and disabled became legitimate targets for annihilation.
The current generation of young Muslims will never know the intensity of the fear that engulfed the Muslim Community in 1979.
As the war raged on, Many Muslims went in hiding while others fled into exile to neighbouring countries mainly Kenya, Sudan and Zaire, which was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some then new Muslim reverts renounced Islam to save dear life.
Their properties such as houses, businesses and farms were destroyed and personal belongings looted.
Whenever a person was spotted donning any attire related to the Islamic faith such as a cap or veil they were killed on the spot by invading Tanzanian solders.
For Members of Nubian community were severally purnished, injured and their bank accounts frozen under accusation of being inner circle of Amin’s gov’t machinery.
The Uganda Muslim Supreme Council-Headquarters at Old Kampala and its lower structures, subsdiary Companies and factories were not spared.
The National Mosque then under construction at Old Kampala hill, was left bare as all building materials such as bags of cement, nails, iron bars in hundred of thousands, heaps of sand, stones, bricks fell in the hands of looters.
All office property such as furniture, file cabins, kitchen items like saucepans and platters used at Maulid celebrations and mosque carpets were looted.
In some areas, UMSC district offices, residences of council Officials like that of late Sheikh Abdunoor Kaduyu then Kadhi of Ankole were destroyed.
Mosques, schools, in Ankole, Kigezi, Masaka, Bombo in Luwero, Lango, and West Nile were completely razed to the ground. Copies of the Holy Quran were placed in pit latrines for use as toilet papers while some Mosques were turned into bars and pigs slaughtered and roasted in them.
Although Muslims have been faulted on many occasions for being radicals, there is no record showing that they have ever desecrated any place of worship nor a holy scripture belonging to any other religious denomination like it was done to Muslims in 1979.
UMSC lost its fleet of Vehicles for instance A Semi Trailer Lorry Fiat 130 NH Reg. No. UVU 735 and Pickup Stout 2000 Reg. No. UVW 516 were looted.
UMSC Ranches, which are the gist of the historical series, were severally vandalized and all livestock exceeding 10,000 heads of cattle were also looted. That marked the end of the UMSC Ranch Scheme Program.
Watch out for part 5.
The writer is the Spokesperson for Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.