New Mosque Redraws Kampala's Skyline
The new National Mosque in Kampala.

New Mosque Redraws Kampala's Skyline


New Mosque gives Old Kampala a fresh look.

By Enoch Mutabaazi
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First published: August 24, 2006


A fresh new look has finally emerged at Old Kampala hill, reshaping the skyline to the eastern part of Kampala city, courtesy of the soon to be completed National Mosque. The new National Mosque, in its final stages of construction, is the cause for renewed hope and celebration among many of the three million members of the Muslim community despite property and power wrangles that have hit the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council lately.


The new National Mosque in Kampala
The new National Mosque in Kampala
The new National Mosque in Kampala.

The mosque is the new source of attraction in Kampala, and day or night as it can be seen making a commanding presence from most, if not all, parts of Kampala. The gigantic and magnificent building is brightening up the Old Kampala surroundings from any vantage point of the city you are standing in. It faces the east of Kampala, capturing a clear view of the city centre.

The mosque is a profound resource and this is probably the reason the managers are guarding it jealously. Outside, on perimeter fence, is a notice that reads, "Out of bounds for members of the public." The notice, according to the site guards who by the way stand about five meter off the mosque's perimeter fence, is for journalists as well.

Yet we could not resist the urge to visit the mighty building to describe it to the masses.

Our pleas to be allowed to speak to the site engineers fell on deaf ears. We were asked to first produce a letter from Uganda Muslim Supreme Council. At the Supreme Council we were told that only the absent Secretary General was allowed to issue such letters.

On the second day we stubbornly went back to the site and this time we took advantage of a lunchtime security lapse and by-passed the guards at the gate. We headed directly for the guards standing near the mosque. From here we asked speculative questions as we tried to observe the exterior of the mosque.

As you walk in through the half-acre compound to the main entrance, a huge and sparkling dome is the very first feature you will appreciate. This dome can be seen from all sides of the hill, spreading a sense of holly ambiance, as you get closer.

From the exterior, the mosque appears enormous for any building in Kampala. We could easily see the buzzing activities going on, indicating that a lot of work is being done here.

The new National Mosque in Kampala
The new National Mosque in Kampala.

There are two main entrances and 12 mini-entrances. One of these main entrances is regarded as the "main" entrance and the dome, which is like 15 yards from this main entrance, is the first to welcome you in the magnificent presence of the new mosque.

In front of this main entrance are welcoming Arabic inscriptions and inside the mosque are inscriptions of the names of Allah (God) and various chapters from the Quran. When president Museveni inspected the mosque, he was awed by Architectural designs and workmanship.

During President Yoweri Museveni's inspection of the mosque on June 15th, the Libyan project and site manager, Engineer Majdi M. Abdulhadi, said the mosque is the largest mosque in Africa.

The mosque is a donation from Libyan President, Col. Muammar Gaddafi. "I want to thank my brother Gaddafi for this gift of a mosque to the Muslims of Uganda and Uganda as a whole. I have spoken to him twice the last two days on phone. I have now written a letter to him, formally proposing that we open this mosque in October," Museveni told Muslim leaders during the inspection.

Engineer Majdi M. Abdulhadi, refusing to mention the value of the mosque said; "The mosque is the largest the Libyan government has donated to the Muslims and that is why we have used the best materials for construction and furnishing."

Abdulhadi says a 17-member team from Egypt and Morocco through the World Islamic Call Society, a Libyan non-government organization, are still designing and making inscriptions to give the mosque a unique and precious artistic impression.

Muslims leave the old mosque after Juma/Friday prayers
Muslims leave the old mosque after Juma/Friday prayers.

He says that the praying centre for the men's wing will accommodate over 5,000 people, the gallery 1,100, while the terrace will cater for another 3,500. The entire Old Kampala mosque will sit 12,200 people and the Libyan government will foot its maintenance costs for at least 10 years.

The mosque also has facilities for conferences, meetings so that as people come to pray to Allah, some can come to meet for other purposes and enable the place to raise revenue for maintenance. Nearby, there is a complete house and office of the Mufti of Uganda.

Even for a person peeping stealthily, inside the centre of the mosque, one can see a three-meter wide chandelier weighing more than 2,000 kg, with 350 energy-saving bulbs.

The mosque is not only a source of joy to Muslims but even to the wider public especially the residents at Old Kampala hill, many of whom have grown up seeing water-leaking, squalid flats. This is evident in comments of by passers. One woman wondered whether the mosque was as big as an airport. Like the name suggests, Old Kampala is really an old part of the city and looks the part.

The new National Mosque in Kampala: surrounded by the old buildings of Eastern Kampala
The new National Mosque in Kampala: surrounded by the old buildings of Eastern Kampala
The new National Mosque in Kampala: surrounded by the old buildings of Eastern Kampala.

Located at the fringes of the city center, Old Kampala was once a pride of the nation in 1960s to 70s before Idi Amid chased away the Ugandan Asians who owned most of the properties in the suburb. The suburb's flats suffered years of neglect and are now dilapidated.

But the new mosque is making the whole place look like a superlative piece of work in Kampala. If only one could get a chance to see what it looks like from the inside.

The new National Mosque in Kampala
The new National Mosque in Kampala.

All photos are brought to you by Ultimate Media consult.

By Enoch Mutabaazi
more from author >>
First published: August 24, 2006
To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to www.ultimatemediaconsult.com.

Enoch Mutabaazi is a media practitioner at Ultimate Media Consult with more than six years experience in the print and electronic media. Since he majored in Broadcast Journalism at his graduate studies Mutabaazi first worked as a reporter at Uganda Television (now Uganda Broadcasting Corporation TV) before he discovered his multidimensional skills in writing and public relations at Ultimate Media Consult. He is currently the Production Executive at Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd and writes occasionally.