By Zziwa Ashiraf
Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba took over office as the Chief Kadhi of Uganda ( Mufti) shortly after his return from Kenya’s Capital Nairobi at a function at the Aga Khan Mosque overlooking the new taxi park along Namirembe road, which then served as the UMSC Headquarters.
While speaking during his first public appearance at Juma prayers at Wandegeya Mosque, Sheikh Mulumba challenged those who were talking about the liberation of Uganda from the tyranny (read Idd Amin’s government).
“There is no liberation when Muslims are being killed. If the UNLF Gov’t isn’t ready to protect Muslims and their properties, am ready to declare Jihad so that Muslims defend themselves,” Sheikh Mulumba warned in 1979.
Muslims welcomed the statement, which spread like bush fire. The statement also energised and encouraged Muslims to come out of their hideouts and identify with Islam such as wearing long tunics, caps and veils like never before.
They also displayed un-precedent passion towards their leader. Indeed no Muslim leader in recent history has enjoyed total support, compassion, and commanded a big following like Sheikh Mulumba.
Sheikh Mulumba received a hero’s welcome during his countrywide tour in war ravaged areas.
The faithfuls praised him and addressed with highly cherished royal cultural expressions in Buganda such as “lukomwa nantawetwa” literally meaning “strong deep rooted Mahogany tree whose trunk can’t easily bend.
They also addressed him as “Nantasibwa Omuge ” powerful Chief who can’t be crowned with stuff without his royal approval, “Walulinda, Mpango, and above all “Al- Adhiib” in Arabic highly disciplined and humble.
They also claimed that Sheikh Mulumba was highly educated and would fluently speak ’70” international languages.
The golden chance however, Sheikh Kassim Mulumba missed was to analyse the prevailing situation when Muslims needed unity more than never before because they were still mourning their dead and nursing wounds inflicted on them during the 1979 war.
Secondly, Sheikh Mulumba was fully aware that he needed to formalise his appointment because there was no shortcut. He would have actually registered landslide victory.
Unfortunately, Sheikh Mulumba whole-heartedly listened and acted upon advice of his political god father, mentor and close friend the late Paul Muwanga who had assumed state power through his appointment as Chairman of the Military Commission that ruled Uganda towards the 1980 National General elections.
Muwanga came into contact with Sheikhs’ Umar Ddumba the legendary Quran Reciter, the late Muhammad Bbira and Kassimu Mulumba in the late 1950s during their studies in Egypt. This was also at the peak of Pan- African struggle for independence.
The late Egyptian President Gamal Nasser offered all logistical support towards African Freedom fighters by allowing them to open coordination offices in Cairo.
As a result, the Uganda National Congress ( UNC) sent Muwanga to Egypt as its representative and shortly after Uganda got her independence in 1962, he went on to become Uganda’s first envoy in Egypt.
The three Sheikhs played a great deal in helping Muwanga to understand the Egyptian Islamic Arab Culture.
They lived in Egypt for over 20 years.
So, in 1980 the late Sheikh Mulumba in the accompany of his close collegues; late Sheikh Muhammad Bbira and Umar Ddumba paid a visit to Paul Muwanga, who was excited to see them.
He directed his aide de Camp Paul Makanya, who was in charge of protocol in his office to take good care of the Sheikhs.
“These Sheikhs are part of my family so, whenever they want to see me please let them in and never bother them with bureaucracy and office rules,” Muwanga directed.
It was during their frequent visits to State House when Muwanga learnt that Sheikh Mulumba’s tenure was about to expire.
“Please kindly listen to me, You Sheikh Mulumba and your colleagues, you’re highly learnt Islamic theologians who are fit to head Muslims now to whom do you want to shoulder responsibility?” he asked. Adding that “Apart from you, am not ready to see any body steering UMSC. So, that business of UMSC elections needs to be halted.”
The idea of suspending the then looming UMSC general elections led to sharp divisions and conflicts among Muslims.
The author is the Spokesperson Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.