Amin, Nubians and making of Bombo town

Friday April 19 2019

Sheikh Ibrahim Sebi points at the old mosqu

Sheikh Ibrahim Sebi points at the old mosque at Majid Noor in Bombo Town where Idi Amin had his early childhood Islamic classes. PHOTO BY DAN WANDERA 

By DAN WANDERA

While the Nubian community settlement at Bombo, a town in Luweero District about 32kms north of Kampala City, dates back to the colonial times and long before Uganda gained independence in 1962, the Idi Amin era as president of Uganda between 1971 and 1979 greatly impacted on the social, political and economic setup of the Nubians in Bombo.

The Bombo Nubian community ancestry is largely linked to the Kings African Rifles (KAR) establishment of the 4th Battalion headquarters at Bombo between 1905 and 1906 where a contingent of about 1052 soldiers were relocated.

A total of 675 of the soldiers were Nubians, accounting for more than three quarters of the Force.
The soldiers moved in with their family members who settled in Bombo, Mr Ismail Karim, the general secretary for the Uganda Nubian Consultative Forum, says in an interview with the Daily Monitor.

Karim’s view about the origin and final settlement of the Nubians in Bombo is shared by many elderly Nubians who link their origin to the mass relocation of the KAR soldiers to Bombo by the colonial masters in 1905. When the colonial government decided to move the KAR headquarters to a more central place in Jinja in 1939, many of the demobilised soldiers reportedly decided to remain and settle in Bombo.

By this time, the town had grown and several Nubians were deeply engaged in crafts making and other businesses. Many of the Nubian elderly are quick to dismiss a widely held view by a section of the public that the Nubian community were not a prosperous community in areas of economic and social setup before the advent of Idi Amin.

“While is true that Amin during his early childhood years attended some Islamic and Arabic classes at Bombo in the early 1940s, the fact that he was not born in the area and had stayed longer with his mother in Lugazi before joining the KAR family is a proof that Amin did not have a big attachment here in Bombo.

Being born in Koboko and a Kakwa by tribe makes our point clear. It is worth noting that by 1966, Bombo had already become the headquarters of East Mengo District with very well built structures, including the white house building now owned by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces. This was long before Amin became president of Uganda in 1971,” Karim asserts in his interview with the Daily Monitor.

Advertisement