Thursday, March 20, 2008


Oh, Uganda. On good days you conjure images of Garrett Morris as bad-house-guest Idi Amin ("Idi, someone slaughtered an antelope in the kitchen and did not clean it up." "It was not me! Why do you think it was me?"), or Forest Whitaker as the Last King of Scotland. On bad days you conjure images of expelled Indians having to flee to the UK, and hundreds of thousands murdered.

Well, now there is something else to picture. First, there is the National Mosque. Actually, the Gadhafi National Mosque, since Mo Gadhafi of Libya paid to finish it. See, they have naming rights in Africa too. Anyway, the National Mosque was begun by Idi Amin in 1972 and finished this week. Did it take so long because Uganda is too poor to build a National Mosque, or because Uganda is only 12% Muslim and it was not a national priority? I don't know. Maybe both.

Anyway, if Mo's Mosque doesn't do it for you, there is always the fact that a riot between the security details broke out at the dedication. The melee was apparently between Ugandan and Libyan security but guards from Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Djibouti were apparently injured. The leaders of Uganda and Rwanda were jostled while the Vice President of Tanzania was knocked over. Guns were drawn. Allegations of racism were made. The leader of Somalia was described as "visibly uneasy" when guns were drawn. As an aside, does Somalia even really exist? And is its leader really made uneasy by guns?

Anyway, through it all the Ugandans were able to keep their history in perspective, with one man being quoted thus:
Many Muslims interviewed said the mosque's opening evoked sweet memories of Amin, the deceased dictator. "It is a great day and thanks be to Allah for the completion," said Salim Abdul Noor, 39. "This should remind us that while Amin is demonized as Africa's worst dictator, there are many things he did for this country that successive governments largely depend on, and much of the completed installations and structures like this beautiful mosque was Amin's dream, may Allah rest him in peace."
I think lots of people are just happy that Allah rested Amin.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Salim Abdul Noor guy should go into public relations. Is he implying that Idi Amin got a bad rap? The success of present day Uganda is somehow a result of Amin's great leadership? Wow. I could only imagine how this guy would spin the success of present day Germany and somehow give credit to der Fuhrer. I think this guy should have mentioned that Amin's dreams were other peoples' nightmares.

10:54 AM  

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