By Zziwa Ashiraf
Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba went on an official trip organised by his close contemporary the late Haj. Abubakar Naduli, then Uganda’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia between Jan 13th to 23rd 1984.
They visited the kingdoms of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The late Sheikh Uzairu Kiruuta, then Masaka district Kadhi accompanied Sheikh Mulumba on the trip.
From his written narration, Sheikh Kiruuta reported that they received a warm reception in Bahrain where they met Sayyid Abdullah Khalid, then Minister in charge of religious affairs.
He claimed that during their interaction they were told about Sheikh Mulumba’s purported death.
At the end of the meeting, Sayyid Abdullah Khalid pledged support for Mulumba’s faction and later secured for them an appointment to meet Abdullah Omar Naseef, then newly appointed Secretary-General of the Muslim World League in Saudi Arabia.
While in Saudi Arabia, Mulumba and Kiruuta performed Umra (lesser pilgrimage to Makkah) where they also met with late Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz, the then Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
The hosts were surprised to see Sheikh Mulumba alive since they had also received news of his purported death. Sheikh Mulumba expressed his grievances and disappointments against the Muslim World League (MWL) for backing Sheikh Kamulegeya’s faction at Old Kampala.
The visit came shortly after Sheikh Kamulegeya’s visit to MWL (Muslim World Leaque ) headquarters in Saudi Arabia as the chief Kadhi of Uganda.
In their defence, the host denied being biased against Mulumba. They pledged to do more to see that Ugandan Muslims unite. On their arrival at Entebbe International Airport after the trip, Sheikh Mulumba and Kiruuta were shocked by the state like reception organised by their supporters.
Hundreds of Muslims from all walks of life including School Children, youths, merchants, women clubs and several Muslim entertainment groups were at the airport to receive the duo.
Many others too lined up along the Entebbe Highway to catch a glimpse of Sheikh Mulumba who drove in an open roof Mercedes Benz while waving at the excited Muslims. Zziwa Ashiraf, the author of the series was among the pupils from Kawempe Muslim Primary in Kampala who were at the airport waving Uganda’s national flag flyers under the leadership of their Headteacher Haj. Edris Serugo Kasenene to greet the Chief Kadhi.
Pupils from Kibuli Demonstration Primary School led by their headteacher the late Haj.Harunah Njuki Mulumba, were also part of the crowd at the Airport. Sheikh Mulumba’s return paralysed business as many people moved to the road to greet him.
The historical event followed the earlier ones including a visit by the late Pope John V1 in 1969 and that of His Majesty King Faisal Bin Abdu Aziz Al Saudi from the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1972.
However, two incidents happened on that day. When Mulumba’s convoy reached the Clock tower in Kampala, Sheikh Kamulegeya’s motorcade was sloping down from Mengo Hill road towards the city center and stopped to give way. Sheikh Kamulegeya’s gesture excited Mulumba’s supporters with some claiming that he was there to welcome his rival.
The other incident was when President Obote’s convoy that was heading to Nakasero State Lodge bypassed the truck carrying the pupils of Kawempe Muslim Primary School who were clad in white shirts and Kakhi shorts for boys and red dresses for girls along Kampala streets.
The truck stopped to give way to the Presidential motorcade. However, when the pupils noticed the President, they bust and started singing UPC Party Songs “Eeee maama twagala Obote Nga Ssente” literally meaning “We love Obote like money”.
It was later reported that President Obote and his handlers were impressed with the pupils, which saw Kawempe Muslim Primary School perform at State functions at Kololo Airstrip.
Kawempe Muslim Primary School gained prominence not only in Academics, Sports and was the only Muslim primary School in Kampala that used to feature on UTV(current UBC) School Programs after that incident.
The author is the Spokesperson of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.