The usually bustling festival of Eid-ul-Fitri was quieter as Muslims were urged to keep away from mosques or open squares where they have previously converged to observe the day’s prayers.
Extra security for instance was deployed at the main gate of the National Mosque at Old Kampala to turn away faithful who planned to join a select group of clerics and staff of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC).
The usually packed mosque had about 20 worshippers attending the Eid-ul-Fitri prayers in the more than 15,000 seater mosque.
The situation wasn’t any different at Kibuli Mosque which remained under lock and key. The prayers at Kibuli were held at Prince Kassim Nakibinge Kakungulu’s residence where admission was by invitation.
It is here that politicians such as Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, MPs Abdul-Latif Ssebaggala (Kawempe North), Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda (Kira Municipality) and Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempe South) prayed from.
The usually parked Masaka Main Masjid square had only two men – both staff at the mosque, who observed the Eid prayers.
While the mosques remained closed, chants of the Eid Takbir (praise) could be heard blaring from various mosques’ loudspeakers.
On Kampala streets, some neatly dressed Muslims moved about, outside some mosques, small groups of Muslims gathered to exchange pleasantries to keep the spirit of Eid alive.
Speaking at Old Kampala Mosque, the Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubajje appealed to the government to consider re-opening places of worship as it starts implementing a phased lifting of the lockdown.
“If the public transport is to be allowed to operate then even worship places should be re-opened so that people can congregate to pray for their country to overcome this pandemic,” Mubaje said.
Like Mubaje, Prince Nakibinge at Kibuli asked to government to waive water and electricity bills for the months the country has been under a lockdown.
Nakibinge also asked Parliament to review the national budget and re-allocate resources that have been earmarked for what he termed as luxurious activities to more critical areas.
“Many Ugandans have made losses as individuals, as companies. I wish o ask members of Parliament to revisit the budget and re-allocate resources to critical areas, and to give some people a jump start. We think you need to revisit the budget for travels, purchase of motor vehicles and seminars,” Nakibinge said.
“We believe that money that was allocated for such expenditure should be transferred to institutions like Micro Finance Support Centre to support small enterprises and SACCOs so that the majority of Ugandans who are low-income earners can access these resources at zero interest rates,” he added.