In an effort to try and see more of Kampala, I went to visit the Muammar Gaddafi National Mosque in Old Kampala after work. It was as opulent and beautiful as it was ironic. Majestic, no doubt, but it’s a weird thought, admiring the manifestation of Idi Amin’s dream, made possible by Muammar Gaddafi’s money. There wasn’t supposed to a place for “admiration of ‘human rights abusers’ ” on my good-evil spectrum. But things are never that simple, right?
Standing on this exquisitely designed carpet, imported from Libya, you can’t help but think — this is what tyranny can buy. Beautiful carpeting on the other side of the continent.
The mosque staff covered our hair and legs in scarves, except for me, they fashioned a hijab out of my cardigan, using the arms as chin straps. While I’m no stranger to covering my head with a scarf or dupatta in religious places, it WAS a little weird to have my head wrapped in a sweater. The guides also showed us how the traditional prayers were performed — and then proceeded to take pictures. Panic ensued — what if my extended family saw those pictures, of a Hindu girl in a sweater-hijab, bent over in prayer? I think my immediate family wouldn’t care, but a little part of me is always wary of how people feel about Hindu-Muslim relations back in India. Luckily, my Jewish and Christian companions had similar concerns about their own religious families, and we agreed that those photos would NOT go up on Facebook. Mom, no worries! I haven’t adopted a new religion!