Asalaam alaikum brothers and sisters.I salute all those who have and continue to constructively contribute to this forum.I am sorry in advance for a lengthy post but thought that, for clarity I had to be elaborate.
My view is that we need the two suggested programs, the Annual Convention and the Dawa caravans, and even other get together programs on a regular basis, like fund raising dinners and meetings for our programs.
- The Annual Convention.
I).This will help us come together as muslim brothers and sisters to physically know one another and to help to break the many barriers and suspicions that may hinder our interaction.
ii). It would give us an opportunity to take stock of our achievements over the given period and to analyse our limitations to help forge out the best way forward.
ii). Help us plan for our future programs, elect our local management teams, fund raise resources and make a critical analysis of our programs, problems and challenges as the muslim community in Uganda.
iv). Share knowledge and ideas on the many challenges facing us as the muslim community in Uganda. This could take a form of presentation of well researched out papers to be discussed in detail in small groups in order to come out with realistic resolutions for implementation.
This convention would for example be a two or three day event, to give opportunity to as many members as possible time to participate in the discussions, put in place working committees to follow up on the resolutions than the one day events which are more of a PR stance.
We have access to many affordable facilities to accommodate this program.
There are many other benefits of coming together as muslims like giving opportunity to many of our muslim charities and organisations to enlighten us on their objectives, programs and projects, recruit volunteers and even fundraise for their programs.. This could be in the form of these organisations setting up desks at the convention to accomplish this task.
- 1. The Dawa Caravans.
We need these caravans to enable us reach out to the grass root muslim community in Uganda to help get a grasp of the problems and challenges on the ground, collect strategic data and help forge out empirical and realistic interventions or solutions, to help mitigate the effects of these problems and challenges.
These caravans could take a form of annual visits to the different regions of the country like the western, eastern, northern, southern and central regions, where members go out for about 14 days visiting institutions like schools, colleges, mosques and even muslim homes in the chosen region, advising our brethren on the various aspects affecting their day to day living conditions with the aim of improving their commitment and awareness of Islam and welfare.
We can mobilise members from the various disciplines like agriculture, medical, legal, business, education, engineering etc to be part of the delegation and help advise our people on how they would utilise their resources to ensure maximum benefit to their families and community like advise on the best methods of farming, small self-help income generating projects, advise on land matters, family issues, importance of engaging in civic matters, the youth, public health and personal/home hygiene, and many other disciplines aimed at enhancing their welfare.
For flexibility members would be given the opportunity to hope on and off as the caravan goes along according to their ability to sacrifice and engagements.
I was active in organising and participated in three of such caravans some time back whilst in MUMSA (Makerere Muslim Students Association).
In 1999 we visited the districts of Jinja, Kamuli and Iganga for about two weeks, where we visited many schools both primary and secondary irrespective of their foundations, mosques and homes, sensitising our brothers, sisters and parents on the many challenges they faced like the need for education, health, participating in politics and civil matters, their deen Islam and held very fruitful discussions on the issues and problems affecting their welfare.
I remember we resided in one of the masjids in these towns from where we would reach out to many of the schools, institutions, hospitals and mosques with in ten miles from these towns. In Iganga for example we went as far Bunya where we found that the Shiats had taken root by building a mosque and big school in that area.
On return in the evening, each of us would give a report on the areas and institution visited, and advise on the best way forward. These reports would be compiled in to what we used to call an Up-country report and submitted to our muslim organisations like UMSC, NGOs and others for intervention. I am sure some these reports are available at MUMSA if records are well catered for, for I personally compiled two of these reports, the Jinja, Iganga, Kamuli and the Mubende, Kabalole and Kasese reports.
We even visited civic leaders like RDCs, education officers and many others whom we deemed relevant in the course of pursuing our objectives.
Our women met with girls and women in these areas and exchanged ideas on how to improve the welfare of our sisters on matters exclusive to women.
We also had a doctor and some medicine on these caravan, who would help treat some ailments of our brothers and sisters in these areas and advise on others like on public health issues.
In 1990 we visited Mubende, Kabalore and Kasese districts with the same objectives and program. This caravan was even blessed with the participation of our br. AbdulRahman Wandati who was by then WAMY’s East African representative that helped in sponsoring part of this program.
In 1991 we visited the Eastern region covering the districts of Tororo, Mbale, Busia and other areas around that region.
In 1992 still with the same program, they went to the north, and covered the West Nile and other areas that I don’t recall for I did not participate in that program.
I remember our brothers like DR. Semogerere of UK, Dr. Sowed Kayongo of IMAU and brothers like Sh. Murtadha Bukenya, Imam Kasozi, Hajj Abasi Kiyimba then the patron MUMSA were very instrumental in these caravans.
We also had grass root support from UMYA’s network in these regions which am sure we can still utilise to effect this program.
This program will help us in gathering empirical data to help us make realistic interventions and to make strategic plans to help improve the welfare of our community in Uganda.
I am confident that many of us can contribute in all forms like financial, ideological, skills and other resources like property, transport, land etc to help mitigate the challenges facing the muslim community in Uganda and probably even in the wider world.
We however need to educate and sensitise our people to appreciate this need, and that one of the most effective ways out will be by identifying with the grass roots community, for them to appreciate our objectives and to help them differentiate us from the many opportunists they see and hear about in Kampala and other towns of the country.
Social and grass root Programs of this kind have the potential to attract funding from many other funders worldwide. We can even tap in to many of the government programs and other community development organisations as an implementing agency, thereby giving the opportunity to make impact on the wider society and to gain bargaining power and mandate in government and other resource agencies like the UN, European Union and other NGOs.
I appeal to the members to give these ideas a critical thought and give their views openly than to let them pass, if we are to translate our forum from a mere talking avenue to one that implements what we discuss.
This could probably help in minimising the petty squabbles that are threatening to tear up our forum and to also help in diverting our attention from the petty leadership wrangles that are also threatening our cohesion as a group.
I stand to be corrected and please forgive me for any over or under sights, for I have spent some time outside Uganda, and may be out of touch with what is on the ground.