17 April, 2014

Masjid: Lira Jamia Mosque In Uganda Needs Urgent Help

Lira Mosque, Uganda
The old, small, Lira Jamia Mosque, in Lira - the capital of Lango District in Northern Uganda, is now badly damaged and almost in ruins. A new one which was under construction until 1978 (which was being funded by Saudi Arabia), and which would have been one of the largest mosques in Uganda, was never completed. When Idi Amin was deposed, in early 1979, as the ruler of Uganda, the old Jamiya Mosque was looted and pillaged; and material which was meant for the building of the new mosque, was also all looted. The new Jamiya Mosque which was under construction then, was not and has not been completed and now houses some local, internally displaced people. A number of well wishers have tried to repair or rebuild both mosques, but very little has been done.

The Old and the New Jamia Mosques, Lira, Uganda

Old Jamia Mosque, Lira
As a child and as young boy, I prayed many times in the old, small Lira Jamia Mosque. Set in one of the most scenic and most spectacular sites in the town of Lira, it was the only Jamiya mosque in town. All around it was lush and green; like a rolled green carpet. During the final days of the short war that deposed the then ruler of Uganda, Idi Amin, this old mosque was looted and badly damaged. Lira, Muslims hoped that the new, much larger one which was under construction, would be completed. But, alas - nothing, so far, for 35 years, has been done. Even with all these shortcomings, and even without Muslim evangelists - each day several people convert to Islam in Lira.

Old Jamia Mosque, Lira, Uganda

New Jamiya Mosque, Lira
As much as the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Al Gaddafi, is criticized; and as brutal as he was reported to be - he has built several, wonderful mosques in Africa. In 2010, he had taken much interest in rebuilding the New Lira Mosque; reportedly, in 2010, President Yoweri Museveni - after being requested by Ugandan Muslim leaders - mentioned the stalled construction of the Lira Jamia Mosque to Muammar Al Gaddafi. Gaddafi offered to help in funding the construction of the mosque; but, he was shortly after that deposed and executed. It should be noted that, it is the same Gaddafi who rebuilt the large, imposing mosque in Kampala, Uganda. The new Lira Jamiya Mosque would have been large, and would have been the largest in Northern Uganda, and the second largest in the country - after the Kampala mosque; it would have had enough space to accommodate at least 5,000 worshipers at a time. To date, from 1979 - no one or organization has been able to do any construction on the new mosque; reportedly, it is mainly wrangling within the Lira Muslim leaders that has hampered in the construction of the new mosque or the repairs of the old one; some even say that, it is the Supreme Council of Ugandan Muslims which has hindered construction.

Due to the wrangling within Muslim leaders in Uganda; and due, to the fact that - most times, funds meant for constructing mosques are misused or wasted, it is best and most advisable that - for any one or people or organization interested in repairing the old Jamia Mosque; or continuing with the construction of the New Jamia Mosque: to not hand over any financial or material assistance to any one to manage the construction. It is best and most advisable, that the well wisher/wishers go all the way to the site in Lira, Uganda and manage the repairs or the reconstruction. Or - to get a reputable, trusted contractor to do that. Otherwise any funds or materials handed rover to any one else or any organization might easily be misused or wasted, without the construction or rebuilding being done.

+ Map of Lira, Uganda