The government of Uganda is set to finance the upgrade and maintenance of the Muslims Martyrs site in Namugongo and also start funding the Muslim martyrs day celebrations every year on June 1st.
The good news was conveyed by Rukia Isanga Nakadama, the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister as Muslims under the Uganda Muslims Supreme Council held prayers at Masjid Noor, Namugongo for the souls of the martyrs killed there between 1874 and 1876.
Nakadama disclosed that President Museveni has confirmed that beginning the next financial year, the mosque where Moslem martyrs were killed is to be included in the National budget for construction to lift its face. The prayers for the Muslim martyrs held annually on 1st June, are to also be sponsored by the government.
In addition to that, the government is to help in reclaiming more than 5 acres of land originally belonging to the mosque which were encroached on and are occupied by residential houses and shops.
President Amin acquired land just opposite the present Anglican Martyrs Church, and laid a foundation for a mosque. A small mosque made of mud and iron sheets was built at the site to coincide with the Christian martyrs’ celebrations back then. The Muslim martyrs’ site is a historical site as the place where Uganda’s first religious martyrs were killed.
The government has over the years been concentrating on the younger Catholic and Anglican martyrdom sites where modern amphitheaters and other facilities have been set up.
In fact this year, whereas the Catholic church received a billion Uganda Shillings and the Anglican church 600 million from the government for the martyr’s day celebrations, the Moslems did not receive any money from the government and relied on individual contributions from some Muslims to be able to commemorate the Muslim martyrs.
The site has therefore not had many activities going on and is scarcely known to the public. The leaders of the mosque plan to build a bigger modern mosque, a museum, a conference hall, a restaurant, and other facilities on the site with financing from the government and the return of their land.
Prof Badru Kateregga, the chair of the construction committee of the mosque says that it is time for the history of this place to be taught to the public so that the importance of the site is not lost in theological arguments.
He says many books have been written about Islam in Uganda but the Muslim martyrs killed at Namugongo have been ignored. He says this is the reason he is putting in the effort to educate Muslims about why the heritage in this place should be kept.