Mourners at the funeral ceremony of Dr Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo were treated to a spectacle, when two Muslim doyens, Prince Kassim Nakibinge Kakungulu and Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubajje 'clashed'.
The retired Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Nkoyoyo, who, passed away last week on Friday was laid to rest at the Anglican Martyrs’ shrine on Tuesday at Namugongo after losing a battle to cancer of the throat.
The funeral, though not attended by as many people as expected (with so many seats remaining unoccupied), nevertheless attracted mourners from across the religious divide.
Mubajje spoke for the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), which he chairs. He did not hide his disdain for Prince Nakibinge who is considered as the titular head of the Muslim community in Uganda.
Mubajje didn’t recognise the presence of Nakibinge even though previous speakers had done so. As soon as the Mufti started speaking, Nakibinge was seen walking way. He only returned after Mubajje was done with his speech.
Mubajje hailed Nkoyoyo as a true believer. He spoke of how he visited Nkoyoyo’s Rest Gardens Resort in Bweyogerere and found a signpost reading ‘Alcohol is not allowed inside,’.
He said that he has heard tales of how profitable alcohol is to the extent that some Muslims sell it.
Speaking immediately after Mubajje, Nakibinge instead recognised Mubajje’s rival, Supreme Mufti Siliman Kasule Ndirangwa as the true leader of the Muslim community.
He indirectly threw a barb at Mubajje when he thanked the Anglican Church for preserving the sanctity of Namugongo by not selling it especially at a time when others entrusted with public properties have sold them for selfish gains.
Mubajje commands respect within the Old Kampala Muslim faction while Nakibinge’s largest and most loyal followers are based at Kibuli. Mubajje, was in 2009 accused of selling Muslim land and other properties in and around Kampala.
The funeral service started at 9am until 4pm when the remains of Nkoyoyo were lowered into his grave - a few metres away from the Uganda Martyrs Museum whose construction he has been spearheading.
The burial was attended by among others, Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi who represented President Museveni; Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga; Buganda kingdom queen, Nabagereka Sylvia Nagginda; opposition strongman Dr Kizza Besigye; Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza and several ministers.
Members of Parliament including, Betty Nambooze, Muyanja Ssenyonga, Kyagulanyi Robert Sentamu aka Bobi Wine, whose arrival excited mourners, were also present.
STATE Vs CHURCH
Meanwhile, the ‘war of words’ between the Church and the State was carried to Nkoyoyo’s funeral with Kampala Archbishop, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga asking people to be mindful and reasonable of what they do and say.
Lwanga said the Church must speak because they are the conscience of the State. He called on the government to stop seeing them as enemies of the state.
“I want to inform you that the church is not against the state…we must be reasonable in what we do and what we say… Politics, faith and reason are one and the same…,” Lwanga said.
In his end of year message, President Museveni on December 31, castigated religious leaders for speaking out against the lifting of presidential age limits. He said that the clergy are “so full of arrogance” ready to comment on each and everything as though they hold authority.
Lwanga, the most outspoken of the clergy in the current feud, said that nothing will stop them from commenting about issues affecting the country, adding that those who report to the president must do so truthfully without exaggeration for selfish interests.
“People shouldn’t engineer the truth to suit their personal goals…,” said Lwanga, who is chair of the Joint Christian Council, amidst applause from the mourners at Namugongo.
The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Stanley Ntagali said parliament and other politicians must serve the interests of their people.
He said the actions of politicians lately have showed that they work for, “God and my stomach, not for God and my country,” like Uganda’s motto says.
Religious leaders have castigated members of parliament for voting in favour of lifting the presidential age limits in what many commentators have interpreted as a move done solely for President Museveni. The MPs also voted in favour of extending their current term by an extra two years.
Nkoyoyo is survived by widow Ruth Nalweyiso Nkoyoyo, children; Isaac Mwesigwa Nkoyoyo, Naome Mirembe Ndiggya Kakembo, Martin Kagiri Nkoyoyo, Margret Nassiwa Ssesanga, and Julius Justine Kakumba Nkoyoyo.