75-Year-Old YMMA Reveals Plans for Nabisunsa Primary School

Challenged with the slow development of Muslims and Islam in Uganda, Prince Badru Kakungulu in 1940 founded the Young Men’s Muslim Association (YMMA) to promote modern secular education among Muslims.

A 1929 experience that led to the conversion of former president, Prof Yusuf Kironde Lule, from Islam to Christianity when he enrolled at King’s College Budo scared Muslims away from schools that offered secular education. This also meant Muslims would be left out in many areas unless the trend changed, thus the founding of YMMA.

The organization was based on the model of Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), emphasizing Islamic morals among young Muslims while promoting an appreciation of modern secular education.

It also sought to contribute to the growth of the Islamic faith through assistance to Islamic schools and Muslim students, health centres, mosques and other social services that cater to the needs of Muslims.

Kakungulu became its president with Juma Nsambu, Musa Kasule, Juma Tomusange and Abdul-Wahab Ssemakula as its registered trustees. From Kibuli hill, they sought to compete with YMCA, a global organization in uplifting the socio-economic wellbeing of young Muslims.

Its first asset was the 80-acre piece of land on which the mosque, hospital and education institutions at Kibuli hill stand. Nabisunsa Girls School was to later join the organisation’s assets list. To celebrate its platinum jubilee, the organization is seeking to roll out its projects beyond Kampala, with an emphasis on education of the girl child.

Its first project this year is establishment of Nabisunsa Girls primary school to feed the secondary school.

“There is a drop in the number of Muslim girls that enroll at Nabisunsa. When the Muslim girls primary school was sold, there remained no school that feeds directly into Nabisunsa and this is what we are looking at,” Hajji Abdul Kariim Kaliisa, the spokesman of the platinum jubilee celebrations, told The Observer on April 11.

This project will address growing concern among Muslim leadership circles that a school started to benefit their community is, to the contrary, benefitting their Christian brethren.


Besides the primary school at Nabisunsa, the organization, in its five-year development plan, intends to mobilize Muslim youths into development projects. According to Kaliisa, YMMA believes Muslim youths can be engaged in economically-viable projects other than being sucked into leadership wrangles that have dogged the Muslim community for years.

“We are not looking at which leadership faction one subscribes too we want to engage the youths in activities that can improve their livelihoods,” he said.

The organization is also looking at re-energising the Uganda Muslim Education Association (UMEA) for the furtherance of Muslim education. UMEA is one of the bodies under YMMA.

“In the next five years, YMMA also hopes to start an Islamic centre, complete with all the facilities and institutions like those you can find at Kibuli,” Kaliisa said.

The centre will be either in western or northern Uganda and will come with a kindergarten, primary school, secondary school and tertiary institutions as well as a hospital.

Source : The Observer


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