This is a 1910 historic picture of former US president Theodore Roosevelt at Kibuga, Mengo (Kampala). Dressed in the kanzu next to Theodore is King Daudi Chwa II of Buganda Kingdom, and behind him is Katikkiro Sir Apollo Kaggwa. Prince Nuhu Mbogo of Kibuli Hill, Kampala is standing next to the nun. Behind Sir Apollo Kaggwa is Gabunga Yosiya Kasozi II, Admiral of the Navy (Empingu) and Kweeba of Ssese islands County.
Prince Nuhu Mbogo is Muslim, next to him is a catholic nun, and on the other side of President Theodore Roosevelt, King Daudi Chwa II is Anglican, his Prime Minister (Katikiiro) Sir Apollo Kaggwa is Anglican and the Kabaka’s Admiral of the Fleet Gabunga Yosiya II is also of the Anglican faith (protestants).
They say pictures tell the story but this photo shows recognition of the existence of religious and cultural diversity in Buganda Kingdom, and the Kabaka’s custom of non-discrimination on racial, ethnic or religious grounds. There freedom of worship, in the sense that by 1910, the people of Buganda had the right as applicable to belong to, enjoy, practise and profess any religion in community with others. The photo also shows a culture of tolerance, cooperation, understanding, appreciation and respect for each other’s religious beliefs, customs and traditions .
Religious harmony in Uganda was always very good until the 1970s, during the time F/Marshal Idi Amin was the President of Uganda.
In fact, the people, probably the most people of Uganda were not seriously ‘religious’, although they identified themselves with a religious denomination. This may not apply to the Moslems because for them, prayer or attending the Prayer Service at the Mosque seems to be part of their lives.
When Idi Amin, a Moslem, came to power, Uganda experienced a very large attendance of Juma Prayers at about every Mosque around the country. Not easy to mention that the Moslems enjoyed lots of favours from the government and Uganda received lots of aid from around the Moslem world.
In addition to such a ‘generous’ aid from the Moslem world, Uganda was regarded as an Islamic Nation and many people were persuaded to convert to Islam. At some point, some were even threatened to be harmed if they did not convert to Islam. To this, I may add that it was not government policy, but some high ranking government, especially military and police officers exercised this criminality and got away with it.
To such officials and many other locals who had converted to Islam, or were Moslems prior, the excitement of being a member of the Faith of Islam could as well be equated to intoxication by a very strong alcoholic beverage!
Many, especially converts behaved abnormally and at times gave an impression of either being above the Law, or being the Law themselves. They destroyed the Holy Purpose of Islam and many evil acts of the 1970s are attributed to them.
The coup d’etat that ousted President Amin also brought harm to many Moslems. But it is honestly sad to realize that even the Faithful Moslems who remained true to the Faith of Peace and Congregated in Faith and Fear of Allah, lost their lives.
Many years after, the most learned and Scholars of Islam are being killed and the killers are yet to be identified.
The Love of Religious Harmony in Uganda is not Lost. We all have to resist the propaganda of those who may wish to divide the Children of Allah.
Christian, Jew, Muslim and whatever denomination another may belong to, we are all children of Allah and all Denominations Lead to Our Father in Heven.
BJ. Rubin via the UAH forum