A group of Christians has suddenly converted to Islam in order to receive free items donated by a Dubai-based company and the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent.
This comes after Muslim landslide victims from Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda (locally called Baduda) who were relocated by the government to the western Ugandan district of Kiryandongo received items donated by a Dubai-based company called Al Crownfolest and the Red Crescent society of United Arab Emirates.
The donated items, worth over $500,000, and solicited by a Ugandan-based local NGO called Iganga Islamic Development Association were distributed last Thursday. Among the items donated were over 3,000 new pairs of trousers, 1,000 copies of the Islamic holy Koran, 500 T-shirts, 2,000 belts and thousands of skirts. The items included no Bibles.
On seeing the Muslims clad in new clothes, and knowing that more clothes were to be distributed soon, over 20 Christians from the resettlement village and neighboring villages converted to Islam in order to get their share of the items.
All items were handed to the Muslim Baduda by the Director of Iganga Islamic Development Association, Abdul Majid Nkolawano. Some were kept in the local resettlement store for future distribution to Muslims by the resettlement village officials.
A neighboring village chief, George Nangwali, said, “Some Christians decided to convert to Islam after establishing that more donations were to be distributed soon. I have learned of three young men who have got circumcised in the last three days so that they become Muslims and qualify to get donated items. Most of the converts are women.”
After Nangwali confirmed that over 20 people had crossed from Christianity to Islam, one of the leaders of the resettled community, Justus Wambede, suggested that poverty and lack of resources could be responsible for the conversions.
“People are suffering from poverty. The government gives us some food but it is not enough. We do not have cooking oil and paraffin to light our lanterns. Some people want to get the items so that they sell and get to buy basic requirements” Wambede said.
One of the converts, Isaac Kule, says he “converted to Islam because of two reasons. One, so that I get some of the donated items, and two, because ministry of health ministry encourages us to get circumcised as one of the ways of reducing on the risk of getting infected by HIV-AIDS.” It is not clear who paid for Kule’s circumcision.
The director of Iganga Islamic Development Association, Abdul Majid Nkolawano, said that he asked for donations after seeing the sorry state in which the resettled people were living.
“On learning about the plight of these people, I contacted organizations in UAE for assistance,” said Nkolawano. “We will continue to look for more help from our friends all over the world.”
Last year, over 300 people were buried by mudslides in eastern Uganda,
on the slopes of mountain Elgon, 350 kilometers from Kampala, in a village called Bududa. Because of that accident, the government decided to relocate people living on the slopes of the mountain to other parts of the country.