The visit by Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gadaffi to Uganda and the inauguration of the Mosque at Old Kampala was a huge statement about the Libyan leader’s strategic interests in Africa. Among the galaxy of African leaders who were there for the opening of the mosque, neither his host President Yoweri Museveni, nor President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, are known for piousness in their own religion (Christianity), let alone desiring to go through the rigours of another religion at an advanced age.
Apart from Museveni who openly expressed happiness for Gadaffi’s remark that all monotheists are Muslims, theirs was not a pilgrimage, and I do not envisage any of them doing the Hajj any time soon as Gadaffi suggested.
The leaders had business on their mind as shown after that mosque ceremony, by the signing of the pipeline deal. Uganda, Rwanda and Tamoil Africa, a Libyan company, signed the Kampala–Kigali oil pipeline deal in the presence of Gadaffi, probably to ship Libyan, and hopefully Ugandan oil later through this pipeline. So never mind the reported bruising, gun-drawing scuffles among the presidential bodyguards; the visit was worth every ounce of energy and air mile by the presidential jets.
So, do the leaders care about the remarks made by the Libyan leader about the falsehoods he says are in the Bible? Hardly. Museveni couldn’t care less. He is a known critic of Christianity, sometimes calling them as the Bible states ’whitewashed tombs full of rotting bones.’ On this issue, Museveni is more aligned to Gadaffi than to Bishops Niringiye and Sekamanya’s Christianity.
Kagame would probably not be drawn into a ‘useless’ argument. He might probably give you a pragmatic answer, to tell you that oil does not have a religion, and if the oil well happens to be in a mosque, he would go for it anyway. So the argument about the reliability of the Bible record is not an issue to both Museveni and Kagame.
So, did Gadaffi travel 5000 nautical miles on March 19, 2008 mainly to inaugurate a mosque? Most likely yes, but also for more.
Gadaffi who in my estimation equates Christianity to the Western world, had come to a zone where he could bash both without any qualms.
As a quick dividend, Museveni almost became an immediate convert when, according to media reports, he was pleasantly surprised that after all he (Museveni) could stay a Christian but also become Muslim because he believes in one God.
You can be sure the egghead in Museveni is looking for theological evidence to bash both Christian and Muslim extremists when an opportunity calls. Gadaffi will love that his proselytizing has rubbed off the heads of Africa’s presidents.
However, do not put it to only that. For all the eccentric nature apportioned to Gadaffi, he is not naïve. For some time now, Gadaffi has invested petrodollars in friendly countries in West Africa, and is now spreading his tentacles further South in what is predominantly Christian turf.
Investments in telecommunications alone in Africa are put at $7 billions.
Recently, a Libyan company, Lap Green Networks, snapped up 80% of Rwandatel for $100 million. The same company owns Uganda Telecom, Mali’s Sahel telecom and operates services in Ivory Coast and Niger too.
Gadaffi has invested his petrodollars in these endeavours and if he gives cheap oil to friendly countries, it will only be for a short term to stabilize their economies and at the cost of supporting some of his plans to compete with the West in Africa including - you must have guessed - the ideological package.
That is why Libyan aid to Rwanda might in the near future be a Muslim University to ideologically soften the business terrain and weed out undesirable ideological competition. Maybe it is about time to learn Arabic and read the Koran to compare it with the Bible. What harm could it possibly portend?
The writer can be reached at musemarcel @gmail.com