Skip to comments.How Uganda became a member of the OIC
Posted on 06/22/2008 6:36:57 PM PDT by forkinsocket
IT comes as a surprise to many Ugandans that our country is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). With Christians making up 80% of the population and Muslims accounting for only 12 %, it is indeed a surprise that Uganda belongs to a Muslim body. Delegates from the OIC member states met in Kampala from June 16 to June 20 to discuss issues affecting them. How Uganda found herself in the same block with Arab countries can be traced to one ambitious leader.
His dream was to be a life president, but it was slipping out of his grasp pretty fast. He had to find a way to strengthen his weakening political base. He did not look further than the Muslim world, which was sympathetic to his political woes.
The year was 1974, and Idi Amin Dada placed Uganda in the fold of OIC. His hope was that in any eventuality of war, his brothers in faith would offer their support to ensure his stay in power. It never happened. Instead, when Amin was overthrown in 1979 and Saudi Arabia did the next best thing they offered him asylum.
He welcomed their offer and enjoyed Saudi Arabias hospitality up to the time of his death in 2003. But 29 years after Amins overthrow, Uganda is still a member of the OIC. Many Christian leaders are not amused by this, and have tried several times to cut Ugandas ties with the body.
The Muslims, however, have resisted any such attempts. There was an uproar within the Muslim community when Christian leaders called for Ugandas withdrawal from OIC in 2002. One of their arguments against Ugandas withdrawal was that Islam was here before Christian missionaries even heard of the country, and they are right.
Uganda Before OIC It was during the reign of Kabaka Suuna II, in 1844, that Arab traders introduced Islam in Buganda. But with their focus more on trade not spreading Islam, Islam was never embraced by many.
Kabaka Suuna himself never became a Muslim. It was his heir, Kabaka Muteesa I, who embraced Allah and declared Islam the official religion of Buganda Kingdom.
But when the Christians discovered Buganda Kingdom years later, Muteesa was open-minded enough to let them in. This laid the ground for the inter-religious wars that ensued between Muslims and the Christians.
The Muslims were defeated and became the underdogs. According to former ambassador, Yusufu Kinene, whose grandfather, Abdul Rahim Tebukozza, was one of the first eight Muslim converts who studied Islam at Muteesas palace, this defeat explains why Muslims lagged behind in almost all fields except business. In education, Muslims children were the least educated because their fathers feared to take them to Christian schools lest they get converted.
This closed doors on most opportunities that the educated Christians had, and meant that the Muslims, who were always the minority in number, were marginalised in all fields.
Amin and OIC Amin was a Muslim, and he wasnt amused that his brothers in faith always had fewer opportunities than the Christians. Although he sought a political ally when he sought OIC membership for Uganda, he knew that along with political support, the OIC would provide Uganda with many development b opportunities.
A diplomat during Amins reign, Kinene says: He visited many Arab countries and from his interactions with them, he decided that Uganda should become a member of the OIC.
As to why Uganda, an 80% Christian country, was admitted to the OIC circle, Kinene explains that OIC is not a religious organisation but a political one.
As a political organisation, it admits any country with Muslims as part of its citizens however few they may be.
Ugandas benefits from the OIC - The Islamic University in Uganda, which is one of two Islamic universities in Africa, and has graduated over 3,000 graduates since its opening in 1988. It is not a Muslims-only university and this is one of the reasons why the Ugandan Government has not made any move to withdraw Uganda from the OIC list. - The OIC is the second largest inter-government organisation, with 57 member states, after the United Nations. Uganda has a lot to gain from associating with such an organisation in terms of social, political, and economic gains. - It is because of the OIC that the Islamic Development Bank has funded several projects in Uganda like the construction of the Masindi-Hoima road. There are also direct investments by Libyan banks and companies like Warid and Hits Telecom. - The OIC summit in Dakar earlier this year decided on the establishment of a $10b Islamic solidarity fund. Uganda, as a member of OIC, will be a direct beneficiary of the fund. - The opportunity to hold the just concluded 35th OIC meeting was another benefit to Uganda. The meetings included the business forum meeting and the foreign affairs ministers meeting. With her recent discovery of oil, Uganda had the chance to meet with the oil barons and discuss how to benefit from the oil. - 12% of Ugandas population is Muslim. As Kinene points out, Uganda is a secular country and cant be referred to as either a Muslim or a Christian country. We should promote each others understanding.
Very interesting article by Elizabeth Namazzi. Thanks for posting.
“Four out five tyrants prefer Islam to other leading brands of religion.”
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