Muhammad Ssimbwa could not hold back his tears as he received $2,000 (Shs 7.3million) from Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema (FM6OA) on behalf of Bashir Abubakar, his 21-year-old adopted son.
These were tears of joy for Ssimbwa, seeing that his efforts were finally paying off.
Abubakar was one of the three Ugandans that took part in the FM6OA organized international Qur’an competitions that attracted 86 contestants from 34 African countries. He competed in the category of Tajweeh (Psalmody of the Qur’an) and tied in fourth position with Aminata Doumbia (Ivory Coast) and Amadou Uri Balde (Guinea Bissau).
To take part in the competitions that were held virtually due to the Covid-19 restrictions, Abubakar left the lecture room at the Islamic University In Uganda (IUIU) based in the eastern Uganda town of Mbale to join the team Uganda that was camped at the National Mosque at Old Kampala hill.
All this time, Abubakar worried about how he was going to raise tuition fees for his Bachelor of Arts in Education degree. He never had a chance to see his father nor does he know anything about his mother. He was an infant at the time when his father died, and as he made six years, his mother dumped him at Ssimbwa’s house and has since never been seen again.
“In simpler terms, Abubakar has never seen his parents; I took him on after the death of his father and the disappearance of his mother. He was very young but Allah has enabled me to give him both secular and religious education. He’s now at the university but I can’t afford the fees because I no longer have a job,” Ssimbwa said.
Abubakar hoped to win the competitions and walk away with $6,000 (about Shs 21.9 million) – the prize money for the winners in each category, but at 17 points, he fell 2.5 points shy of Tanzania’s Huseni Kesi Mwamtoa who emerged best in the Tajweed category.
Nonetheless, a consolation prize of $2,000 from the FM6OA was good enough as it will relieve the financial pressures and push him at least into his second academic year.
Uganda’s other representatives at the competitions were, Habiibu Sulaiman Wafula and Abdurakiibu Woja who like all the other contestants received $2,000 from FM6OA.
The Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubaje handed over the money to the Ugandan participants during a brief ceremony held at the FM6OA Uganda branch offices in Nsambya, a Kampala suburb.
In his speech, Sheikh Mubaje hailed the efforts of King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema to the development of Islam and Muslims in Africa.