By Farooq Kasule
Prince David Goloba, an elder brother to the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II has converted to Islam.
Goloba’s conversation to Islam was disclosed by his cousin brother Prince Kassim Nakibinge Kakungulu, during the celebration to mark 127 years since the return of their grandfather (late Prince Nuhu Mbogo Kyabasinga) from forced exile in Zanzibar (present day Tanzania).
History has it that Mbogo was in 1893 sent into forced exile in Zanzibar by the colonial Government in 1893 until June 25, 1895.
Clad in a Muslim tunic and cap, Goloba who is in his advanced age said he is happy that he has converted to Islam.
“I believe that since I have converted to Islam at this memorial function, my conversion will remain fresh on your memory,” he said.
Nakibinge also the titular head of the Muslim community appealed to Muslims entrusted with power to serve with humility and honesty.
“We must emulate Prince Mbogo and his men because they served our religion beyond self,” Nakibinge said.
Justifying the annual celebration of Mbogo’s return from exile, Nakibinge revealed it doesn’t only help Muslims to reform but also to project the future of the Islam religion in the country.
“At the time of his exile, Mbogo had not married and if he had not been returned, maybe some of us would not have been here,” he said.
Nakibinge begged Muslims to stop trading in Islam saying it is one of the reasons why the religion is lagging behind despite being the first religion to arrive in the country around 1844.
Appeal to Parliament
Nakibinge also appealed to Parliament to devise means of dealing with high prices of essential commodities saying that it has greatly crippled the livelihood of people.
The Supreme Mufti Sheikh Shaban Muhammad Galabuzi decried continued sale of the Muslim assets by some leaders saying it is undermining the sweats and sacrifices made by Mbogo and his group who endured difficulties as they laid the foundation of Islam in Uganda.
Giving the legacy of Mbogo, Professor Abbas Kiyimba, a former lecturer at Makerere University explained that the exile of Mbogo was a blessing in disguise for the Muslim community.
“Before his exile, he knew little about the Islamic religion and his exile was an opportunity for him to learn the norms of Islam and on his return, he propagated Islam from an informed point of view,” Kiyimba noted.
Kiyimba further revealed that the decision by colonialists to have Mbogo and his group returned from Zanzibar, two years after their exile, resulted from the fears by the colonialists that they were planning an uprising.
Born in 1835 to the then Kabaka Kalema Ssuuna II (1832 – 1856), Mbogo was a brother to Kabaka Muteesa I, who invited modern civilization to Buganda. Mbogo was nine years old when Islam was first introduced at Kabaka Ssuuna II’s court, around 1844.
However, Islam did not thrive much until the reign of Kabaka Muteesa I, who declared it a state religion in 1875.
The declaration came with directives of observance of the five daily prayers, fasting during the month of Ramadhan and construction of mosques by the Kabaka’s chiefs throughout the kingdom.
To ensure that the mosques were constructed in adherence of the Islamic principle, Muteesa appointed his brother Mbogo to oversee it.
Quoting from Jonathan L Earle dissertation titled “Political theologies in late colonial Buganda” which he submitted at Selwyn College, the University of Cambridge, Kiyimba revealed that Mbogo took on the assignment after the construction of Muteesa’s first mosque at Nakawa.
According to Kiyimba, Muteesa’s death in 1884 ushered in a new era in Buganda as his heir, Daniel Basammula Mwanga, was not as keen on foreign religions as his father.
In 1888, Muslim power brokers deposed him and replaced him with Muteesa’s eldest son Kiweewa Mutebi I, who was dethroned within six weeks after he refused to get circumcised.
Kiweewa was replaced by his brother Nuhu Kalema, who defied traditional norms and got circumcised.
Following the outbreak of the 1888 religious wars, Kalema led the Muslim army but because they could not match the superior weapons employed by the colonialists, who fought alongside the Christians, the Muslims were forced to withdraw to Kijungute, where Kalema died of small-pox in 1890.
“While Buganda’s Muslim community maintained central power in Buganda’s political landscape, superior weaponry allowed Christian chiefs and colonisers to secure political power in the 1890s resulting into political marginalisation of the Ganda Muslims,” Kiyimba noted.
Upon the death of Kalema, Mbogo took over as the titular head of the Muslim community, which also declared him Kabaka, Kiyimba revealed.
That same year, the Imperial British East African Company (IBEACO) declared Buganda a British Protectorate and Capt Fredrick Lugard persuaded Mbogo and Kalema’s surviving son to return to Buganda from Kijungute.
Consequently, Lugard had Mbogo arrested and detained, which annoyed the rest of the Muslims, who started mobilising to regain power and political influence.
With support from Nubian and Egyptian soldiers, they planned a revolt and it is said that when Lugard realised that Mbogo’s influence was intolerable even under detention, he had Mbogo exiled to Zanzibar between 1893 and June 25, 1895.
Because of immense pressure, Lugard was forced to return Mbogo from exile leading to the signing of the 1900 Buganda agreement, five years later.
“As a form of punishment, Mbogo and his siblings were locked out of the Buganda throne and ascendance was restricted to descendants of Muteesa I,” Kiyimba explained.
Under the same agreement, Mbogo was allocated 24 square miles of land at Kibuli, Kawempe and Nakawa that he dedicated to the advancement of Islam.
In his lively presentation, Kiyimba noted that Mbogo and his team went through immense difficulties and unreasonable restrictions such as notifying Buganda Lukiiko (Parliament) of the mosques they were going to construct and their exact location.
“Whoever is against this celebration is just ignorant because Mbogo honestly laid the foundation for the Islamic religion in the country,” Kiyimba said.
Kiyimba revealed that despite the tough conditions imposed on him by the colonialist, Mbogo remained unwavering and continued his advocacy for the rights of the Muslim community resulting into public wearing of caps, tunic, and slaughter of animals among others.
Mbogo died in March 1921 at the age of 86 and was succeeded by his 14-year-old son, Prince Badru Kakungulu, who furthered the works until his death in 1991. Kakungulu was succeeded by Nakibinge. Ends