I first got to know about Young Men Muslim Association (YMMA) as a student at Kings College Budo in 1970s. It was introduced to us by Prince Badru Kakungulu. Most of us during the 70s and early 80s started out only as participants. Prince Kakungulu did a lot to attract me and fellow Muslim students to this association. Every IDD day, he would pick us from school and take us to his home to pray and feast.
Through such meetings, we felt a strong connection with the prince. He too felt a strong need to groom promising young Muslim men in schools like Kings College Budo, St. Mary’s College, Kisubi and others. It was his belief that Muslim young men needed to understand the need to serve the nation and their religion. It was critical for us to connect with this great man and because of his influence we started the Uganda Muslim Students Association under the leadership of Yusuf Selugolugo.
This developed from our need to mobilise and interest other young people to pursue education as Prince Kakungulu had inspired us. We always had conferences, outings and forums to discuss matters to improve ourselves and support each other. Learning from Kakungulu Prince Kakungulu had such a profound impact on us as young Muslim men aspiring to join Young; Men’s Muslim Association. He was such a principled leader who never refrained from defending what he believed in.
So when he talked to us about joining YMMA we felt very encouraged and honoured. We were also encouraged by some vibrant youngmen that were around him. These included Abu Mayanja, Ntege Lubwama, Jumba Masagazi and others. When initiating us into YMMA, Prince Kakungulu always told us to be proud of our religion. He told us that we could be anything we wanted in this word and encouraged us to participate in the development of our country. He had so much confidence in young men that he provided 80 acres of land in Kibuli where several structures were set up and entrusted to YMMA. He trusted young men to develop this place.
In 1970s, leadership of YMMA went to Abu Mayanja. He was very respected among Uganda’s intellectuals- both Muslim and non-Muslim. He was also very persuasive. He encouraged many young intellectual Muslims to participate in YMMA activities.
Lots of conferences and workshops were organized at Kibuli;and other places to encourage young men engage in intellectual discussions. As the association gained publicity, more educated young people joined. YMMA has always been known as an elite group. That is true.It was made of an elite that were concerned about shaping the better future for the Muslim community; to build confidence and to participate in development.
When we I joined in the 70s, the association’s objectives were clear: bring the best out of people. I and many other educated young men therefore embraced this culture of excellence. We often came together to debate and hold lectures on matters of development, religion and culture. Prof. Ali Mazrui, a great friend of the association often came to give us lectures.
All this built us tremendously. Becoming a leader I was appointed YMMA secretary in 1987 while Dr. Suleiman Kigundu served as president. During our time in leadership, we fought very hard to establish the Islamic University In Uganda (IUIU). There was a critical debate over the establishment of this university.
We had to travel to the Islamic Conference Organisation in Jeddah to get the ICO to come and approve our plans. We struggled to get a charter for this university, we lobbied parliament and through Sulaiman Kiggundu’s connections in the government tried to seek support. To confirm our commitment, we offered 5 acres of land in Kibuli for the establishment of IUIU Kampala campus.
We encouraged the establishment of a nursing school at Kibuli hospital. This was important because to address the stiff competition for services and opportunities from other nursing schools. Today this nursing school has grown. IUIU has also seen the establishment of a medical school which will be located at Kibuli. I feel very pleased about what we were able to accomplish. YMMA has played a key role in my own life. If I had not been a member of this association, I would have been a weaker Muslim. This association has brought me closer to my religion and imparted important values into me, for life without values is not life at all.
One of the greatest legacies of YMMA is the imparting of good values in young Muslim men so that they live a human and humane life. There are also a number of developments that have been put in place. We continue to support, offer resources and intervene.
My message to the new team is: let them continue to champion good values and to train young people to become good responsible citizens and strong believers. A strong believer can never engage in questionable behavior such as theft. Be upright, have values, be trustworthy. Then the future of our country will be assured
Born and raised in Masaka in a family of 28. His father Yusuf Khalifa Kiggundu was a farmer and Attended junior secondary at Kibuli, proceeded to King’s College, Budo, Makerere University and Manchester University, Briefly taught at Makerere University’department of political science and public administration and Worked as Secretary General of the Uganda. Muslim Supreme Council and the Bank of Uganda as a special advisor to the Governor. He worked as secretary general for the Common Market for Eastern and South Africa(COMESA) clearing house in Zimbabwe and retired from bank service in 2002, aged 55. He is now involved in private business. He enjoys reading the Koran and preaching when invited. He is married, with children