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Just who is Sheikh Aboud Rogo?

By Awadh Babo | Published Sun, September 2nd 2012 at 00:00, Updated September 2nd 2012 at 13:37 GMT +3

By Awadh Babo

The late Sheikh Aboud Rogo and family.

Just who was Sheikh Aboud Rogo? That is the question we put a cross to many different Siyu village residents in Lamu County who knew him.

And just like the mystery around his death, Rogo was described by many as an enigmatic man who led a simple and reserved life.

It is not surprising therefore that his death has led to protests from a section of Muslim faithful and his followers in Mombasa.

The cleric’s date and year of birth remain unknown. However, some people believe he was born in 1965 in the remote Siyu village in the expansive Pate Island where he grew up. His mother, Mama Mwanaisha Rogo, who later died, came from a prominent family.

Details about his father remain scanty. According to reports, Rogo has a younger brother identified only as Musa and is believed to live in Mombasa. Unlike the cleric, Musa spent little time in Pate, Siyu or Lamu.

Rogo attended Siyu Primary School but later dropped out before he completed Standard Seven under the 7-4-2-3 education system. He pursed Islamic education in a Madrassa (Islamic) school in Siyu village. Later he denounced secular education as “corrupting and forbidden” under Islamic law.

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Religious studies

Rogo left Siyu village and proceeded to Mombasa where he reportedly proceeded on with religious studies. It is not clear which Islamic school he attended in Mombasa, what level of qualification he achieved but he demonstrated immense skill in classical Arabic. The cleric was well versed with global politics and history (Islamic and world history).

Rogo was said to be very eloquent and intelligent in Islamic religion and a good orator who would keep his followers glued to their mats inside a mosque during his religious lectures.

“Sheikh Rogo was a very humble man outside the mosque even though he would never disclose inner feelings towards bad governance or the US polices outside the mosque,” says Siyu Location Chief Ahmed Yunus.

Mr Yunus who also hails from Siyu village says he knew Rogo during his early childhood life before he relocated to Mombasa. It was during that time that they lost contact although Rogo would sometimes visit the area to attend family functions like burials and weddings.

“He would never criticise the Government outside the mosque or hit out at the Americans or talk anything about injustices being done to Muslims or even engage in politics during a casual conversation,” he says.

Rogo was described by many as very careful in his talks and lived a very reserved lifestyle away from the public limelight.

Back in his native Siyu village the cleric never convened any Islamic gatherings or preached in the village mosque when he visited.

Since 2007, Rogo was said to have only made one trip to Siyu village where he attended a family wedding.

“He was a very rare person in Lamu and his Siyu home village and he owned no property there, not even a shamba,” says Yunus.

However, those who knew Rogo closely and used to attend his preaching sessions in mosques described him as a very intelligent preacher who would never show off but was very influential to his followers.

Consequently, it was not easy for one to conclude he was wealthy. But he reportedly led a casual and ordinary life making good but very few friends among ordinary people.

Many people interviewed by The Standard On Sunday said Rogo was a very jovial man who liked cracking jokes just like his late grandfather Mzee Rogo when he was not preaching in the mosque, contrary to what he used to feed his followers once inside the mosque while delivering sermons.

Radical preacher

But once inside the mosque the cleric was a very fiery and radical preacher who would never mince his words. He once reportedly said that all chiefs must have denounced Islam and should say the “Kalima” or “Shahadda” again in order to re-convert to Islam again.

The Kalima or Shahadda is the declaration a Muslim must say that “There is no other god other than Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah” as a declaration of faith in Islam.

“I used to be very alert whenever I attended his preaching in Masjid Musa in Mombasa and would always stay close to the door fearing that the mosque would be raided by the police because of his radical sermons,” says a very close friend of Rogo who declined to be named for security reasons.

Rogo was the one who took late Fazul Mohamed, a terrorist mastermind, to Siyu village in a group of Muslim preachers in early 2001.

Fazul remained in Siyu and married a local village girl from another prominent family related to the cleric. It was during the search for Fazul by the FBI agents and the Kenya Anti Terror Police that the name of Rogo started featuring in the intelligence network.

From then and after the 2001 bombing of Paradise Hotel in Kikambala, the intelligence and FBI had been keeping a close watch on Rogo and virtually every step he took within and outside his Kikambala homestead and the Musa mosque in Majengo in Mombasa where he preached.

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