By Frederick Kiwanuka
Katuumu village in Luwero district is home to one of Uganda’s first Islamic schools which, sadly, is nolonger remembered.
Although several Muslim leaders studied there, they never return to the place that made them who they are today.
Katuumu Islamic School is about 6km from Luwero town. It was established by a renowned Muslim cleric, the late Swahib Semakula, who settled in the area in 1947.
Semakula was Uganda’s first Mufti when Uganda Muslim Supreme Council was formed in 1972. It is at Katuumu that the bulk of Uganda’s Muslim top brass, were initially trained.
Semakula died in 1973 at the age of 113 years. Three of his sons who include sheikhs Musa Semwogerere, Muhammad Katende and Ali Mutyaba, said among the muftis who passed through Semakula’s hands are, Abdulrazak Matovu who replaced Semakula in 1973 and Suleiman Matovu who took over after Matovu resigned.
Others are Ahmad Mukasa, late Saad Luwemba, Obed Kamulegeya, Muhammed Semakula and the Kibuli Mosque Supreme Mufti, Zubair Kayongo.
Although the current Mufti Shaban Mubajje did not pass through Katuumu, Semakula’s sons said he was trained by Sheikh Amir Lule who was trained by their father.
District kadhis, sheikhs and Imams also went through Katuumu. Among these are Abdnoor Kaduyu, a former district khadi for Mbarara, former Buganda Speaker late Sheikh Ali Kulumba and late Diriisa Uthman who was the Nebbi district Khadhi.
Others are the late Sheikh Zubair Bakari, a former resident district commissioner, Diriisa Lutaaya, the founder of Buziga Theological College and Abdnoor Kakande, the Kayunga district Khadhi.
Ahmed Kiyaga, the Mukono district Khadhi, Suleiman Jjagwe, who is said to be the first Ugandan to recite the Koran, also trained in Katuumu.
Being one of the few Islamic training schools available then, Katuumu used to receive Muslim children whose parents entrusted them with Semakula.
Some would come from Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria to study Islam. After Katuumu, those who could afford went abroad for further Islamic training.
Semwogerere narrates that their father was initially a Christian but later converted to Islam. He mastered Islam when he went to Tanzania during the 1900s. On returning, Semakula was appointed the Imam of Kawempe Mosque. He was later posted to various places, including Namasumbi Muslim county in Mukono district.
From Namasumbi, Semakula went to settle at Kitosi in Masaka district, from where he shifted to Katuumu in 1947. At Katuumu, Semakula bought 450 acres of land on which he settled and built one of Uganda’s earliest Islamic schools.
Currently standing on the hill where Semakula’s school used to be, is a mosque and a primary school which teaches both secular and Islamic studies.
Semakula is said to have married eight wives, of whom only Hajat Saudha Namatovu, 79, is alive. 18 of Semakula’s 25 children are alive.
The family said the Muslim fraternity in Uganda has not recognised their father for his contribution to Islam in the country.
They are bitter that almost all Katuumu’s old boys, most of whom have held prominent positions, have never returned to the place that moulded them into what they are.
They want Katuumu old boys to construct a secondary school in memory of their father.