BY HAJJI NSEREKO MUTUMBA
Haji Sakibu Mukuye lived a fruitful life and pioneered many developmental activities in Rukungiri. His father was Asuman Ddamulira who traveled from Migadde village in Bulemezi – Luweero in 1904, briefly settled at Masaka Kinoni and proceeded to Rujumbura in 1910.
He was welcomed by the King of Mpororo, Makobore who gave him land to settle at Kabirizi; a remote and dangerous animal infested area. He contributed greatly to the development of Rukungiri, Ntungamo, Kabale and parts of Bushenyi districts.
Mukuye’s humble beginnings goes way back to first dealing in bark clothes (embugo) and pots which were quite popular as plates and cooking ware. Using income from these activities, he introduced large scale banana plantations in 1940. By the time of his death, he was a major supplier of bananas and sugar cane to Rukungiri town and surrounding areas.
In 1942, when he visited Buganda, he was fascinated by the riches of the people, particularly their iron roofed houses and motor vehicles, which he was told came from profits of coffee beans. When he returned home, he took back with him a few coffee beans, which he introduced into nurseries to develop the seedlings. This was the beginning of robusta coffee in Rukungiri District – in other words, Mukuye is the one who introduced coffee farming in Rukungiri.
By 1949, they had started harvesting. However, by 1950, his village Kihanga was not easily accessible and it was therefore difficult to market his produce. This is when he single handedly embarked on constructing a 13 kilometer road connecting Kihanga, Buhunga in Rujumbura County – Now Rukungiri District to Kebisoni in Rubabo County. He was later assisted by his two brothers Yusuf Kayole and Musa Magezi.
The Kigezi local government later appreciated this project and sent in road inspectors to help improve the bridges by replacing logs with pipes and concrete culverts.In 1966, the road was commissioned by the then Hon. Minister of works Mr. Katiti.
From the coffee earnings, Mukuye built the first ever iron roofed house in his home sub county of Buhunga in 1953. In the same year, he pioneered the purchase of a motor vehicle, an Opel. He also purchased a Gramophone and a pressure lamp that amazed locals with its amazing lights.
In 1954, Mukuye built the first Mosque in Rukungiri at Nyakaziba and converted many people into Islam. People still recall the Muwalimu he hired from Bukoba in Tanzania to teach Islam to his tribesmen. It was during that year, that Ankole was hit by severe famine, but Mukuye used his personal wealth to minimize it by feeding many children. Many were impressed by his generosity and they converted to Islam.
In 1955, he built another Mosque in Rwakanyegyero. A year later he used his personal funds to put up the first private primary school in Rukungiri called Rwakanyegyero primary school. The school is now under the district local government administration. The school management committee and parents have since submitted a resolution to the authorities seeking to rename the school “Sakibu Mukuye memorial school”.
Despite his being nearly illiterate, Mukuye had the wisdom to invest in educational establishments. In 1956, Mukuye built the first shop in the parishes of Kihanga, Buhunga, Kyariyenje, Mabanga and the neigbouring parishes in Ankole.
A year later, he bought a commercial vehicle, an Austin lorry that he used to ferry materials for the completion of the school. He also used the vehicle to ferry his business merchandise like coffee to the market. This vehicle was later to assist salt traders by ferrying their salt from Lake Katwe.
In 1957, he introduced fish farming by constructing two fish ponds into which he introduced Tilapia.
In 1958, he built another Mosque at Rwakabengo. However this Mosque was destroyed by local residents because it was near Protestant and Catholic churches.
The fruits of Mukuye’s efforts were mostly seen in the early sixties when his formerly remote village Kihanga, became the pride of Rujumbura County (now Rukungiri District) with most villagers putting up iron roofed houses with earnings from the coffee boom. Kihanga became the richest village with parents able to take their children to school. In fact Kihanga can boast of being the earliest source of “school goers” in the early 1960s.
With increased coffee production, Mukuye started a coffee processing factory at Kacence with a cooperative society of over 100 people and he was its treasurer. He had 19 children, 12 girls and 7 boys. These include Sulaiman Semukuye – a councillor and vice chairman Buhunga Sub-county and a member of UMSC General Assembly, Aisha Namigadde, Uthman Kasoma among others. His wives included Mastula Namuka, Mariam Tiratumire, Madiya Bitaragazamu and Asiyati Kemigongo.
In addition to his children, Mukuye supported a number of young Muslims especially those who converted to Islam. He educated them and supported them economically. These include Sulaiman Karuhembe, Ahmada Gagirahi, Abdallah Bwengye, Madina Gagirahi and Abdulkadir Byaruhanga (a Commissioner of UMSC Electoral Commission), Eng. Swaibu Mulinya – former chairman of Mandela National Stadium and many others.
Among those he empowered and prospered in coffee growing were Bataringaya, Kashaija and Rukakurijwa Sebastian.
In his book: “Pearls of Wisdom”, a Turkish Muslim Scholar Fethullah Gulen wrote as follows: “The really long-lived are not those who live long but those who can make their lives as fruitful as possible.
In view of this standard, as there may be those who, though a hundred years old, are truly short-lived, it is also possible that there are those who, though only 15 years old, have been able to attain the highest degrees by dedication their lives to giving as many fruits as possible.”
Haji Sakibu Mukuye was a patriot who served and loved Uganda above himself. He detested selfishness, which is a cancer to most well to do Ugandans. He valued wanainchi more than anybody. His life on this earth was beneficial to many Ugandans. Had he to be alive today, he would be better placed to be in charge of NAADS! This man for sure is among the Muslim heroes of Uganda, though unsung.
The writer is the Public Relations Officer