Historical Series Part 19: UMSC tries to neutralize rivals.

Gen. Tito Okello’s revelations excited Muslims who went on to receive him with matali (tambourines or drums ) and deafening clapping as he was ushered in to assume the position of chief guest in the VIP tent.

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“As I took over the microphone I quickly noticed the disappointment and displeasure from Muslims written all over their faces simply because I was unknown. Secondly, being a village dweller, they didn’t expect much from me because I appeared inexperienced and ungrounded in Islamic theology. So, I was unfit to speak at a high profile function where prominent People were in attendance. Even the organizers almost stopped me thinking that I would mess up the already highly charged function,” Sheikh Mukuluwakika recalls.

By Zziwa Ashiraf

As stated in the last series, UMSC had exhibited its strength after engaging several security agencies, which raided and attempted to stop a massive Maulid Ceremony organized by Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba’s camp in Butambala in West Buganda Muslim District in early 1985.

Sheikh Mulumba’s group had pitched camp at Masqid Haq (Mosque on truth) at Lubaga Road in Kampala as the center of their activities after being flashed violently from the UMSC commercial property on William Street. It is alleged that the organizers of the Maulid ceremony had selected only prominent Sheikhs including the late Sheikh Uzairu Kiruuta, then Kadhi for Masaka District under Mulumba’s camp to preach at the event.

According to Sheikh Khatwiib Mukuluwakika, a close confidant of Sheikh Kiruuta while reading the Quran two days to the event as was his daily routine after Fajr ( early morning) prayers, he found himself reciting Surat Yunus (Prophet Jonah) chapter 10 of the Quran. Sheikh Mukuluwakika narrates that the surah torched his heart as drew lessons in comparison to the situation their beloved leader Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba was going through because of the sharp differences with his rivals at UMSC.

“I immediately shared my exegesis on the life of Prophet Jonah with my mentor Sheikh Kiruuta so that he includes it in his preaching at the forthcoming function.” He was however, shocked when Sheikh Kiruuta instead tasked him to prepare to take over his slot.

Sheikh Mukuluwakika recalls that they arrived in Butambala safely and found hundreds of excited Muslims from far and near who had already gathered for the event. He says that no sooner had Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba arrived amidst jubilations from his supporters than a team of men in military fatigue jumped out of their vehicles and ordered them to stop the event and disperse because their function was illegal.

Confusion ensued but they were saved by the surprise arrival of Gen. Tito Okello, the then Chief of Defence Forces during Obote 2 Gov’t. To the surprise of Muslims, the Soldiers who were dispersing them earlier on went on to salute their boss who informed Muslims that he was there to represent Paulo Muwanga, then Vice President and Minister of Defense as the Chief Guest.

Gen. Tito Okello’s revelations excited Muslims who went on to receive him with matali (tambourines or drums ) and deafening clapping as he was ushered in to assume the position of chief guest in the VIP tent. To the ordinary Muslims present, this was resounding victory over the UMSC administration in Butambala and against Sheikh Kamulegeya as a person.

More surprises were to come. According to Sheikh Mukuluwakika shortly after the preaching began, the master of Ceremony announced that Sheikh Kiruuta, a senior Kadhi from Masaka was to be their first preacher. Little they did know that Sheikh Kiruuta had already passed on his slot to Sheikh Mukuluwakika. The celebrants were shocked when Kiruuta stood up and went ahead to introduce Muluwakiika as his replacement.

“As I took over the microphone I quickly noticed the disappointment and displeasure from Muslims written all over their faces simply because I was unknown. Secondly, being a village dweller, they didn’t expect much from me because I appeared inexperienced and ungrounded in Islamic theology. So, I was unfit to speak at a high profile function where prominent People were in attendance. Even the organizers almost stopped me thinking that I would mess up the already highly charged function,” Sheikh Mukuluwakika recalls.

He however, stood firm and went ahead to expound Suratil Yunus explaining in detail the life of Prophet Yunus (Jonah). He observed that Allah’s Prophet Yunus almost reached the point of abandoning the divine call due to the hostility of his opponents as he went through serious trials. He however, abandoned the thought and followed the Almighty God’s Will so was Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba. The message sunk deep among Muslims including Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba who burst in tears.

Sheikh Mukuluwakika’s analogy, triggered another round of ecstasy among the celebrants at the Maulid as they surged forward to shake his hands and embrace him while others forked money from their pockets to tip him as a sign of appreciation for his beautiful sermon. Prophet Yunus’s story became popular in Sheikh Mulumba’s camp. And when he rose to speak, Sheikh Mulumba immediately announced that he had appointed Mukuluwakika as his Special Personal Assistant. That gave him a name among Muslims. He later served in various positions i.e. A Member of Majis Al Ulama representing Western Region since 1987 to date, Kadhi of Bushenyi Muslim District, Acting Deputy Mufti and retired as UMSC Secretary For Dawa (Islamic propagation).

On the other hand, the UMSC Administration under Sheikh Abdu Obeid Kamulegeya rolled out development activities as another way of neutralizing their rivals especially those in Central ( Buganda) mainly in Kampala and surrounding Districts. The Muslims of Masaka and West Buganda ( Mpigi and Butambala) were more hostile to UMSC despite the fact that Sheikh Kamulegeya, then Chief Kadhi and Haj Isah Khalifa Lukwago, then UMSC Secretary General hailed from both districts.

Sheikh Kamulegeya and Haji Lukwago made several official trips to Muslim Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Libya subsequently enabled International Organizations and Agencies such as World Muslim League (WML), Munathama Al Dawa Al Islamia, World Islamic Call Society to open cooperation with UMSC. Indeed it was Sheikh Kamulegeya ‘s UMSC Administration that got access to the Saudi grant of US $10million that was safely kept in Saudi British Bank in Riyadh.

These funds had been earmarked for several UMSC projects that included reconstruction and expansion of Kibuli Muslim Teachers College, construction of fully fledged 21 Convert Centres with Health units in different parts of Uganda, renovation of UMSC factories, machinery and the Ranches, all under the supervision of the UMSC subsidiary Company Industrial & Commercial Holdings Ltd.

UMSC managed to secure Heavy Duty Industrial Tailoring Machines from Qatar that were meant for the establishment of a Vocational Sewing Institution for youths.Prior to 1985, UMSC had registered a breakthrough in conjunction with World Muslim Youth Assembly (WAMY) Headquarted in Jeddah Saudi Arabia and organized a successful International Youth Camp in Uganda.

It drew high profile International Muslim Personalities such as the late Dr. Maneh Al Johani, the then WAMY Assistant Secretary General and the late Dr. Hassan Turabi, then Sudan Presidential Advisor who were the key Guest Speakers among many others The late Ugandan President Dr. Milton Obote opened the Youth Camp at the International Conference later renamed as Serena Hotel.

There were two other interesting projects at the time under discussion that UMSC was working around the clock to accomplish. These were upgrading Kibuli Muslim Nursing Home (Health unit) into fully fledged Hospital under the name of King Faisal Memorial Hospital with the projection of 600 beds. Kampala Muslim District Council then under Sheikh Abdu-Kadir Mbogo as Kadhi had started the health unit in 1980.

The second project was the renovation of then century old two storied House built by the late Prince Mbogo that was in very bad shape. The house accommodated his heir now also deceased Prince Badru Kakungulu, then UMSC National Chairman. According to the UMSC archives, the UMSC Executive of the time in resolving the reconstruction works of the project, named it “Kibuli Muslim House”.

It seems that UMSC leadership at time had good intentions to deliver but were derailed by the sharp conflicts with their rivals under Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba. As a result some projects were never completed despite the disbursement of funds, which appear to have ended up in the pockets of a few individuals

Other UMSC projects were erected on personal or private Organization property without following due legal processes. This led to the loss of such property for instance Kibuli Muslim Teachers College, Kibuli Hospital, the four roomed structure built on Kyadondo Hill as a Convert Centre was taken over by Juma Zukuli group where they later started Kawempe Muslim Secondary School.

To continue———

The writer is the Spokesperson of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.

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