The following story is bewilderingly ridiculous, saddeningly homophobic, and somehow true.
A Ugandan cleric is making headlines because he married another man while thinking he was a woman. It then took two weeks for the man to realize his mistake. The cleric was then suspended over the controversy.
27-year-old Sheikh Mohammed Mutumba is the unfortunate and oblivious man at the heart of this story. According to Daily Monitor, Sheikh Mutumba, who acted as the Imam of the Kyampisi Masjid Noor mosque in the district of Kayunga, held a wedding reception two weeks ago. The wedding and reception held at his grandmother’s home in the Kyampisi Trading Centre were performed in the Islamic tradition. That said, it appears that no one in attendance or within the wedding party were aware of the fact that Mutumba’s betrothed, known as Swabullah Nabukeera, was a man.
After the reception, the two spent two weeks together and according to Mutumba, he had not yet been intimate with his betrothed that entire time. Mosque coworker Amisi Kibunga also stated that Mutumba complained four days after the wedding about the new bride refusing to undress while the couple slept.
The truth only came to light after Nabukeera was arrested for the theft of a television set and clothes from the next-door neighbors, according to Daily Mail. A female police officer carried out a body search and then quickly told Mutumba and other police officers what she’d found.
Friends and colleagues of Mutumba say they never suspected a thing as Nabukeera always wore a hijab. Even Nabukeera’s aunt was aware of his gender as she only got to know him as an adult.
“The first day he visited, he was wearing a hijab. I even slept with him in my bedroom,” she told Nation.co.ke. “When she told me that she is going to get married, I gave her the go-ahead and asked her to bring him to my home.”
After the revelation, Nabukeera confessed that his real name was Richard Tumushabe. While Western readers may feel concerned that this may be the story of a transgender/gay citizen hoping to find love or something positive, this is unfortunately not the case. Kibunga confessed to the police that he married Mutumba with the goal of stealing the cleric’s money.
As for Mutumba, he was suspended from his clerical duties at the mosque despite officials already confirming he was none the wiser. Mosque head Sheikh Isa Busuulwa said the action was necessary to “preserve the integrity of their faith.”
While this story may seem wild to us, it’s also a sad one. Because at its heart, the story carries a homophobic tone and tendency. While the cross-dressing scheme is toxic in and of itself, the community’s reaction to it also shows how toxic and homophobic areas of Uganda are. And with situations like this happening, that won’t change anytime soon.