Uganda: Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata: Man who said it as it is

Mamos Media

Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata Batte speaking at the funeral of the late Anas Kaliisa in Kibuli, Kampala, on November 5. He [Sheikh Muzaata] was laid to rest exactly a month after PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA.

By Shabibah Nakirigya

Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata Batte, who died on Friday aged 58, gave it to you as he saw it. It did not matter who you are. One sad afternoon former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura turned up at Kibuli Mosque to mourn a sheikh who had been gunned down.

A number of other sheikhs had been gunned down earlier. 

Sheikh Muzaata, who was always the master of ceremonies at such functions, took aim at the then influential army general. 

“My calls to you are not returned Mr IGP,” Sheikh Muzaata roared. He then turned to Gen Kayihura’s aides and lambasted them, demanding that whenever they see his number calling they should alert the IGP. 

He reserved the biggest rebuke for Siraje Bakaleke, then a district police commander, who he commanded to stand up as he spoke to him. Muzaata said Bakaleke, a Muslim, was also not taking his calls yet he contributed to his rise in the Police Force. He did not say how he did it.

He told Gen Kayihura and his men that whenever he called them the matter was about life because that was a difficult time, and that at his age and status he would not be asking them for money.  Advertisement

On another occasion – again to mourn another killed sheikh at Kibuli mosque – Muzaata still went for the collars of the uniformed mourners. 

In rebuking the authorities for failing to provide protection to the sheikhs that had been killed, Muzaata declared that all the sheikhs that had been given armed guards should return them to the IGP and prepare to die alone instead of dying with innocent guards. 

Those who needed protection, Muzaata said, should go to hardware shops in Nakasero and buy machetes. He later withdraw the call for Muslims to get machetes after Gen Katumba Wamala, then the Chief of Defence Forces, urged him to do so and assured him that the protection of the remaining sheikhs would be beefed up.

On that occasion the killed sheikh – Maj Muhammad Kiggundu – was a UPDF officer and his car had been waylaid by killers on motorcycles. He was killed with his guards.

The shootings of sheikhs were often carried out in frightening fashion, and many of them were killed in public places. Those who got killed had often talked about threats to their lives, saying that there was a list of those to be killed. 

Sheikh Muzaata’s name was also often mentioned among those to be killed, and he took to speaking freely about death, declaring that it did not bother him much that he would die any time.

In a video clip that was widely circulated on social media when Muzaata was pronounced dead, the prelate took aim at the current leaders, telling them to beware what passage of time brings. 

Muzaata said in the video: “I told this to Gen Kayihura that he should visit Nairobi and see men who were powerful during Idi Amin’s time. Where are they now? You give them KShs 1,000 and they will be very grateful. Those who were powerful under Obote, where are they …. Where are they? …. Now this current group of leaders will also be like that. Don’t sell Muslim property hoping to get protection from the current leaders. I will probably also be like (Muhammad) Kirumira. But even if you kill me, I will be sure that I have just died before you and I will be sure that you too will follow me…”   

Kirumira, who was an outspoken district police commander, was shot dead in September 2018. Before he was killed, Kirumira spoke out loudly about what he said was going wrong in the police force under Gen Kayihura.

He famously said  he chose to speak out because whether he spoke out or kept quiet he would be killed.

Neither his killers nor the killers of over a dozen sheikhs and former police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi and former MP Ibrahim Abiriga have been found.                      

On not arresting the killers of sheikhs,  Muzaata often spoke out with vigour, criticising the government for what he called not paying sufficient attention to matters concerning Muslims. 

In the same breath, Muzaata also accused President Museveni’s government of side-lining Muslims regarding appointments to the public service. 

He said in one video clip, for instance, that Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) had an executive director, a deputy and 10 directors, and none of them was a Muslim. He said the same applied to the other authorities and major appointments across the country.

If the question was to be put to Muzaata how he wanted to be remembered, he would most likely answer that he should be remembered as someone who fought for what he understood to be the interests of Islam and Muslims.

Fight against Mubajje leadership
Muzaata led the fight against the leadership of Mufti Shaban Mubajje at Old Kampala, which he and his colleagues accused of selling off property belonging to the Islamic faith.

The fight was so debilitating, often spiced up by Muzaata’s straight talk. The fight ended up in the courts of law, with Mufti Mubajje standing in the dock, charged with illegally selling off Muslims’ property. 

The court found that Mufti Mubajja had indeed sold off the property of Muslims, but that he had not committed any offense because he had the authority to do so. The Mufti had previously denied that he had sold the property. 

After failing to dislodge Mufti Mubajje from Old Kampala, Sheikh Muzaata and like-minded clerics deserted Old Kampala and pitched camp at Kibuli Mosque, where in 2009 they declared a rival leadership under the late Sheikh Zubair Kayongo, who they dubbed ‘Supreme Mufti’.

The late Kayongo was upon his death in 2015 replaced by Sheikh Siliman Ndirangwa as Supreme Mufti.

Based at Kibuli as the head of Dawa (evangelisation), Sheikh Muzaata did not cease what he called the fight to reclaim the property of Muslims that was sold off, and he carried on the fight until his death.

And Muzaata did not reserve his motor mouth for the government and Mufti Mubajje. When Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga ordered the removal from the Kabaka’s palace in Lubiri-Mengo of the mosque built by the former Kabaka Mutesa I, Muzaata took the bulls by the horns. He routinely attacked Mr Mayiga over the act until a compromise was struck and the kingdom provided alternative land to set up another mosque.    

Muzaata was taken ill two weeks ago and hospitalised at Kampala International Hospital in Namuwongo, where he breathed his last on Friday afternoon.

Muzaata was born on February 5, 1962 to Hamidah Nalunkuuma and Adam Muzaata near Bwaise in Kampala. He started school at Bilal Islamic School in Bwayise and earned a degree in Islamic studies at University of Medina, Saudi Arabia. He was laid to rest yesterday afternoon in Kigoogwa, Wakiso District.

Source Daily Monitor.

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