By Cyprian Musoke
PERCHED on top of the historical Old Kampala hill is the monumental and grandly picturesque Old Kampala Mosque. Its imposing new minaret pierces into the cityâ€™s skies with more gusto than before.
The structure that has for years been an eyesore hanging above Kampala like a bad cloud can now at best be described as an architectural gem. Thanks to the efforts of President Museveni, the Libyan leader Col. Muamar Gaddafi and the World Islamic Call Society (WICS).
The ground floor of the new mosque now houses a spacious womenâ€™s prayer wing that is draped in colourful mosaic ceiling and wall works, complete with giant chandeliers and large flashy windows, reflecting femininity.
Narrating the genesis of the project with a passion, the former Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) secretary general, Idris Kasenene, recounts how the efforts of President
Museveni gave way to an appointment for members of the UMSC to meet Gaddafi â€“ the results of which is the beautiful mosque.
The mosque for which Saudi Arabia gave former President Idi Amin $57m stalled in 1979 when Amin was deposed.
â€œWhen we met the Libyan leader in Tripoli, we asked not for money, but for a â€˜turn-keyâ€™ project, in which we would only be handed the key after completion of the project,â€ Kasenene recalls.
â€œWe had to terminate the initial contractors, Concorp, and also shift Fort Lugard for purposes of enlarging the mosque.â€
Among the facilities the new mosque boasts of is the underground parking facility accommodating over 200 cars and a spacious conference centre that can be hired out.
â€œThe conference centre is one of the modern facilities we have in Kampala. It is sound-proof, has simultaneous translation gadgets and can accommodate over 300 delegates, deliberating in a very tranquil atmosphere,â€ Kasenene says.
He says the mosque also has a state-of-the-art library with over 10,000 titles, complete with a computerised title-search system.
He said the funders of the project intended the centre to be a modern study centre, equipped it with a computer training centre with over 40 computers with an aim of designing short computer study courses.
The place also has a residence for the Mufti, modern and spacious UMSC offices, Mufti chambers, his deputyâ€™s and the secretary general offices.
The entire floor is made out of marble with thorough workmanship. â€œThis is the most modern mosque in the whole of Africa. It is a great sacrifice from the great leader,â€ he said.
Eng. Majdi M. Abdulhad, the Libyan project and site manager, said the Libyan government will foot maintenance costs of the mosque for at least 10 years.
The mosque was officially opened on June 8.