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The forgotten Muslim heroes of Uganda: Abdulaziz Nsubuga Bulwadda Ssabaganzi


ARTICLE SUMMARY: Besides being the first ordinary Muganda to embrace Islam, Abdulaziz Nsubuga Bulwadda Ssabaganzi spread the monotheistic faith in Ankole and took part in Islamic wars during the reign of Kabaka Rashid Kalema.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY: Nsereko Mutumba is the Public Relations Officer of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.

In our (Uganda Muslim Supreme Council) continuing series of the forgotten Muslim heroes of Uganda, we are glad to bring to you our elder Abdulaziz Nsubuga Bulwadda Ssabaganzi.

Mr. Ssabaganzi participated in many Islamic battles (entalo za’bajungute) during the time of the late Kabaka (King) Rashid Kalema Muguluma in 1888/9.

The battles he participated in include Bajja, Ndeese, Nampwanyi and the Lungujja battle during which Muslims were badly defeated and they retreated to Kijungute in the then kingdom of Bunyoro.

Off the battle field, he was the first ordinary Muganda to embrace Islam. He was one of the Muslims who were set to be executed in Namugongo along with other Muslims and Christians on the orders of King Mwanga between 1886 and 1887.

He was however spared by the chief executioner Mukajjanga after realizing that they were both from the Mamba (Lungfish) clan.

After this experience, Bulwadda realized that Islam was in danger.  This gave him the reason and courage to fight even harder to save his much cherished religion.

He was the first Ugandan Muslim to learn Swahili from the Arabs who came to Uganda to teach Islam.

Because of his courage and achievements, he was appointed by the then Governor of Uganda as the District Commissioner of the then Ankole Kingdom.

Bulwadda took many Baganda Muslims with him and gave them positions as county, sub-county and parish chiefs with the aim of spreading Islam. He appealed to them to be humble and friendly to the people and, because of this, they did a lot in spreading Islam in Ankole. This is the basis of the Banyankole belief that associates Baganda people with Islam, generating the popular saying which goes “Nanka okaba Omuganda”, literally meaning, “Did you convert to Islam?”

This was all Bulwadda’sefforts to propagate Islam using Luganda.

In the field of education, he made himself an example by educating his children. They include Ramathan Gaanya Bulwadda who was the first Muslim Katikiro of Buganda in 1941.

Basing on his contributions to Islam in Uganda, I find the late elder Abdulaziz Nsubuga Bulwadda Ssabaganzi a deserving Muslim heroe although unsung.

Source: http://umsccommunications.blogspot.com/