FIMA MEETING KAMPALA JULY 2019 / DHUL QADAH 1440
Assalaamu-alaikum to you all…family, friends, and colleagues
I hope that I was technologically savvy like my daughters and would perhaps have then put all this, on Facebook or Instagram. I do realise and acknowledge that visual power is far better than reading text.
Anyway, it is better sometimes to have things in text than having it in pictorial form. Some of the things that I will relate, you may have already seen the photographs. Good for you! For those of you who may receive this via other sources, should you wish to have any of the photographs, please contact me as I do not want to waste your data.
With the grace of Allah, Yakub Essack, the IMA president from Johannesburg, Yacoob Vahed, of Welkom ( he is the official IMA representative on FIMA) and I undertook a short trip to Kampala for the FIMA Council Meeting on 22-23 July 2019 / Dhul-Qadah 1440. To differentiate between the two, I called one YAKUBU ( in Africa the U is added to many names) and the other YACOOB.
Dr Muhammad Khan (from Port Shepstone), who is a member of the FIMA Exco, and his wife Zerina, were also at the meeting. We flew to Kampala via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines on Sunday 21 July 2019.
Having landed at Entebbe Airport, which is situated along Lake Victoria, we were shuttled to the hotel in a bus. Entebbe brought back horror memories of the Israeli raid to free a hijacked airliner in the 1970’s. Just looking out from the aeroplane and seeing Lake Victoria was a sight to behold. We landed close to sunset making it even more spectacular.
The distance from Entebbe to Kampala is about 30km. One would think that this journey (from a major airport) to Kampala would take 30 minutes at the most. However, if you have an infrastructure of highways etc. it would be so. This journey took 1 hour 45 minutes. It was enjoyable as we got to know some of the other delegates who had landed at the same time. En route we saw some of the South African businesses… Shoprite, Game and Makro.
Monday was spent at the council meeting which was running parallel to the “Fourth International Muslim Leaders Consultation” (IMLC) on HIV / AIDS. In actual fact the official opening of the IMLC was held on the Monday morning and many dignitaries, both local (from the Ministry of Health of Uganda) and international like the US Ambassador to Uganda, the WHO representative in Kampala etc. were present. We then broke away for the FIMA Council Meeting which took us through to Maghrib.
Having been taught Geography many, many years ago, I was aware of the fact that the source of the River Nile was Lake Victoria. Little did I realise that it was at a place called Jinja, about 80km from Kampala. If you mispronounce it as JINGA, you would think that one would get fresh water prawns there! Again, if there was an infrastructure of roads, this would have been a journey that would take 45 minutes at the most. Enquiring from the locals, we were told that the journey would take about 2 hours. It was then that the three of us decided that we would use some time allocated on Tuesday to visit the place.
In the interim, at the FIMA Council Meeting, many old relationships were reinforced and many new friendships established. This was certainly wonderful. There were representatives from 19 countries ranging from Malaysia in the Far East to the USA. Many of the African countries were represented together with our Middle Eastern colleagues including those from Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It allowed us the opportunity to gain, at firsthand, knowledge about their respective countries. We were most certainly taken aback by some of the information given to us with the current happenings in countries like Afghanistan, Turkey and Yemen.As a first at a FIMA meeting, our SA delegation organised the first FIMA Fajr Walk on Tuesday morning. Three Saudis, two Bangladeshis and three South Africans were the inaugural participants. It proved to be highly entertaining and brotherly like the post Fajr walks at IMASA conventions. It will certainly evolve and become a permanent fixture at future FIMA meetings.
We were optimistic that if we left around 10h00 to visit the source of the Nile, we would return at the latest by 15h00. We were certainly in for a surprise. It was a magnificent journey with our two guides, Hasan and Sowedi. Hasan is a lab technologist and Sowedi has just finished medical school and will be starting his internship, Insha Allah, on 01 August 2019.
We are indeed extremely grateful to both of them for having taken us there. They epitomised true Muslim brotherhood in their dealings with us. Aunty Zerina will be fondly remembered for the delightful padkos she gave us so much so that Hasan, who was driving, wanted more of the “Purri Putta”! This was his inaugural introduction to Indian padkos!
To get to Jinja, we crossed the river Nile over a magnificent bridge. We were told that photographing of the bridge was not allowed. Apparently many of the businesses in Jinja were owned by the Indians who were booted out by Idi Amin. We learnt that once Idi Amin was overthrown, many of the Indians were requested to return and, offered their businesses in return. Some returned while others passed their businesses to empower the locals.
The Nile River is 6650km long. It is made up of the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile has its origin in Ethiopia while the White Nile has its origin in Jinja. The town is small with a few places to stay. An entrepreneur would really love to be here and try and set up some hotels. However, the road leading to it would need to be sorted out first. By the way Uganda is very green with adequate rainfall. On our drive to Jinja we saw plantations of sugar cane, tea, bananas and maize. The road stalls had a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
There is an entrance fee to pay at the site and there is a differential rate for the locals and the foreigners. One wonders why South Africa does not have this policy as those from the rich countries really have holidays in our countries at a pittance. The entrance fees for foreigners is 30 000 Ugandan shillings (250 shillings equal R1) while for the locals it is 10 000 Ugandan shillings. There are the usual curio shops at the site. To get to the actual source of the river, one hops onto a boat and one can either do a short, medium or long ride.
The short ride is 15 minutes, the medium half hour and the long one hour. Due to time constraints, we chose the medium ride and found this to be adequate and thoroughly enjoyable. One has to wear a life jacket and the boat then takes you to the source in a few minutes. At this point, in the days gone by, was a 7 metre deep waterfall. In view of the fact that a dam has been built downstream and the fact that water was then being retained, this waterfall was no more and hence one just looked at a “smooth river”.
At the exact source of the Nile, there is most certainly a differential in the water. The quality of the water is the same. However 70% of the source of the White Nile is from Lake Victoria while 30% comes from underground – akin to a borehole. One can actually see the water bubbling up in this area. When the boat went across the demarcation point, the water is calm and there was no flow as in a lake. On the other side, the boat moved along with the flow of water.
The bubbling of the water reminded me of the “Zam Zam” well as this appears to be a never ending supply of water. The guide also informed us that Lake Victoria is supplied by multiple tributaries. It is found in 3 countries: Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. One also remembers the incident of Hadrath Umar (RA) who addressed a letter to the river when it was not flowing and the letter was thrown into the river. It has not stopped flowing since, I am reliably told.
One disembarks on an island in the middle of the river where a little “spaza” shop has been set up. I took the opportunity of drinking the water of the River Nile and at least washing myhands there. My regret was that I did not make wudhu there. My colleagues were petrified and were silently reading Fateha for me and refused to even drink the water. Four days later, I am still alive writing this little note!. I also collected some of the water and brought it back home. My two colleagues were fearful of the fact that 500ml of water would not pass the scanners at the airport as only liquids up to 100ml are allowed to be taken on board.
With the help of Allah, I brought along at least 500ml of River Nile water which looks as clean as any water that one could drink. The cleanliness, in fact, reminded me of the cold waters of the Drakensberg from which we frequently drink on our hikes.
Our return journey from Jinja was a little shorter due to the fact that Hasan decided to take a few risks on the single lane road ( real Fatheha / Kalima time) and also some shortcuts.
We returned to our hotel and then prepared for the Gala dinner that evening. This was to be held on the grounds of the Kibuli Hospital.
It is perhaps worth noting the history of Islam in Uganda. Islam was introduced in Uganda by the Arab traders in 1822 when one of the kings, King Suuna accepted Islam. A piece of land was then given to the King later and a Musjid was then built subsequently by the succeeding King. What is remarkable is that in the suburb of Kibuli is a preschool, a primary school, a high school, a university and a medical school with the Kibuli hospital being the teaching hospital. As the narrator, who gave us the history, told us one could spend one’s life in Kibuli from birth to death. The current Prince, Prince Kassim Nakibinge Kakungulu hosted the Gala dinner which was truly a magnificent social event. There were different items of food and the atmosphere was relaxed with the Prince being very humble and meeting all the FIMA delegates.
One of the outstanding memories of this trip is the simplicity of the people who hosted us and the Ugandan people in general.. Their hospitality was quite magnificent. Their willingness to help in whatever way was truly remarkable. They may not be considered to be sophisticated in what they do nor may they have all the latest resources. However their willingness to help, accommodate ones requests and general warmth was a lesson that will long live in my memory. May Allah reward them. They have also seen to it that Islam is functional and plays an important role in their lives. May Allah bless them at all times.
Our return from Kampala was smooth. We were saddened by the fact that we could have seen more of the country and its people had we stayed a little longer. I will always be indebted to both YAKUBU and YACOOB who took me along on this trip, tolerated me, and were really good company. May Allah keep this bond functional at all times and allow it for the betterment of Islam.
It is through meetings of this nature that one meets others, learns about them and assimilates knowledge. FIMA afforded this opportunity. To Prof Magid Kagimu and his IMA Uganda Organising committee, FIMA President Prof Ihsan Karaman and his FIMA troops and all the other delegates….SHUKRAN
IMA South Africa
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