Ugandan Muslims, split by an internal power struggle, yesterday found a reason to unite in prayer for the soul of Col. Muammar Gaddafi who met his death at the hands of youthful rebel forces in his home town of Sirte in Libya.
Anger and tears characterised the special prayers held at the Gaddafi Mosque in Old Kampala. Speaker after speaker praised the fallen Libyan leader who helped fund several projects in the country including the Gaddafi Mosque built at Shs50b.
Several speakers attacked the West and accused them of targeting Libyan oil and killing Gaddafi in the process. The Muslims also accused NATO of using divide- and -rule tactics to exterminate Gaddafi and his loyalists.
Sheikh Abdulkadir Mbogo, who led the Friday summon which was dedicated to Gaddafi's contribution to the Muslim community in Uganda, said, "he was killed because of jealousy".
He warned Muslims against judging Gaddafi and reminded them that every soul will eventually come face to face with the angel of death.
"Gaddafi has died a hero, because he has done a lot for the Muslim community and the country," he told the congregation that sat still, many shedding tears.
Gadaffi Mosque, one of the biggest in sub-Saharan Africa with a capacity of about 30,000, was filled to capacity.
Ousted Libyan leader was killed Thursday by National Transitional Council (NTC) forces in their final assault on the last pocket of resistance in his hometown Sirte.
NTC fighters who had fought in the bloody seven-month conflict that toppled the veteran despot at the cost of more than 25,000 lives, erupted in jubilation at the news, which followed earlier reports that Gaddafi had been captured.
As photographs and mobile video footage of Gaddafi's blood-stained body continued to circulate across the globe, the bare reality facing Libyans could only be imagined with the awareness of the challenges that his 42-year rule now brings to his countrymen.
The NTC has less than one month to establish a transitional government and another year thereafter, organise elections, but even before that, Libyans must return to their normal lives.
Sheikh Amir Mutyaba, the former Ambassador to Libya in the late Iddi Amin's government, gave an emotional account of Gaddafi's life and his relationship with Uganda since 1975.
He broke down as he narrated how he met Gaddafi at the age of 23 as an ambassador. Sheikh Mutyaba said Gaddaffi had a dream to unite Africa and had offered him $30 million to open up a Bank in Europe but the money was confiscated by Americans.
"But he has died as a hero and Allah will bless him for his kind heart and the oil diggers will be punished."
Deputy Mufti Sheikh Abdul Hayyi Mukiibi praised Gaddafi for constructing the Gaddafi main Mosque, Voice of Africa Radio, Muslim schools and the Muslin Call Society, an organisation supporting Muslim programmes in the country.
At Kibuli Mosque, supreme Mufti Zubair Kayongo and Sheikh Obed Kamulegeya asked Muslims to pray for peace in Libya.
"The Muslim community and the country at large have lost a brother and great leader ... But we call for reconciliation and peace to return to Libya," Sheikh Kayongo said.
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, who announced that he was going to Mecca for Hijjah, said: "Gaddafi's death should be a lesson to other leaders. The leaders should know when to leave power."