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.