In Kakoba Mbarara, my childhood home there are at least three mosques between the town center and the three or four miles to the home where I first lived. My first friends included Kadoogo, the daughter of mama-Kadoogo, Muhamood’s wife. We played together in childhood and remained acquaintances in adulthood. Her mother a devout Muslim has a striking resemblance to my mother with the same skin tone and they are about the same height and dress size. When we were young mama Kadoogo and my mother would sit together on the verandah outside the kitchen and talk for hours while we played. When Muhamood died recently I discovered that things were not so good between neighbors because my family claimed they had deliberately buried Muhamood on our side of the mark that divides our land. I was rather upset because I never thought we would have anything to say but kind things about Muhamood, his wives and their children. The trouble however was not big enough to stop me from stopping by to greet mama Kadoogo when I visit Kakoba. It is a neighborly squabble.
My mother is a devout Christian and my father is spending the evening of his life building and growing a Church in Kakoba. Between the town center and my family home, in the same three – four miles there are at least four Churches that I know of. One Catholic Church, two Protestant churches and more recently a Pentecostal Church. Aunt Hilda is a devout Catholic and goes to the Catholic Church religiously (pun intended) while my parents go to the Protestant Church and ever since I can remember when Aunt Hilda was strong enough she always stopped by our home on her way to or from Church and we children played together and remain friends with Aunt Hilda's kids to this day.
Now I know that if you wanted to start a real quarrel in Kakoba you could simply ask which of the three women, Mama Kadoogo, Aunt Hilda or my mother; loved God more. That would be far worse than the squabbles over Muhamood’s grave. They have lived peacefully together, attended each other’s weddings and funerals and continued to worship separately the same God (for they all believe that there is one God,) but in their different ways.
We waited for Eid celebrations in Kakoba as eagerly as our Muslim neighbors knowing that we would eat to our fill the pilau rice that no Christian neighbor seemed to cook as well as mama Kadoogo. And at Christmas we shared our feast with our neighbors. There could be no ceremony with meat in our village without inviting Kassani the Muslim butcher to slaughter the animal and make sure that our meat was Halal and good enough for both Christian and Muslim alike. And when it came to throwing a party in the neighborhood, Aunt Hilda’s kids were the stars because they had this extra guest house where we engaged in teenage shenanigans without adult interference. Ours was and is still a harmonious existence.
At 50 I know that the world could learn something from Kakoba and stop blaming religion for the slaughter that is happening in the name of God because that is about terrorism and not religion.
— feeling peaceful.