The outside influences such as Islam and Christianity

 The kingdom of Buganda lay on the shores of
Lake Victoria and emerged sometime in the 14th century. Buganda like many other
chiefdom level societies around the world sustained themselves on a mixture of
agriculture, hunting, and animal husbandry. In the case of Buganda, many clans
lived off of cereal and tree crops as well as bananas, yams, and cassava. Those
who lived near Lak Victoria fished. Women generally speaking tended to the
crops and
men to the cattle. Once again like other tribal or clan-based structures necessity
forced Buganda to evolve into a more sophisticated state-level society in order
to compete with the neighboring and expanding Bunyoro kingdom. As Buganda
became more stratified they too began to expand to the North and West developing
a powerful army and fleet. Bugandan Bataka or clan structure was based on about
twenty matrilineal clans. Each clan had distinct identities based around
religious cults and shrines known as Lubare (Robinson 154). Clan relations in
Buganda were often fractious which made it a place where clan struggles were
not uncommon and rapid change in the religious and political landscape was
possible depending on the extent of external and internal pressures. Later
outside influences such as Islam and Christianity helped to dramatically
reshape the political face of the country.

Buganda
palace politics was a place of intense clan competition, intrigue and scheming
mothers attempting to get their children next in line to the throne. As
mentioned previously Buganda clan structure was matrilineal, but Kabakas came
from the father’s line. When a new Kabaka gained the throne he was encouraged to
take more wives in order to cement his authority. It was this system that
fueled clan rivalry within the ruling class itself. (Robinson 154). This
competition was perpetuated by page schools which saw young boys brought to the
palace to apprentice at court. These pages in addition to performing their
assigned tasks also took in the sights, sounds and intrigues of palace life and
learned to emulate the drive for prestige and power. The Kabaka too was a slave
to many of these clan rivalries and tensions. Though he was the head of state
and had the ultimate authority he often found it difficult to operate smoothly
within a system fraught with tension. Even religion and gods were linked to
various clans as were their priests. Clans constantly offered wives to the
Kabaka praying that “their” wife would father the next leader of Buganda. Creating
an environment capable of immense and rapid change and violence brought on by
intense inter-clan competition. Due to the lack of an official state religion,
Islam was able to take root in Buganda virtually unopposed by any native priestly
class. The coming of Islam and Christianity and their theological components
would greatly weaken the Bugandan state and open the door to instability,
revolution and colonization.

Islam
first came to Africa in the form of Arab traders from Oman and other countries
on the Arabian Peninsula. Initially, these traders interacted with locals up
and down the Swahili coast who for one reason or another quickly began to
convert to Islam. Some cite this rapid conversion as a desire to gain wealth
and status. Regardless of reason the Swahili coast soon became heavily Muslim
but the religion did not spread far inland. Islam was rarely practiced in
interior Africa until the second half of the 19th century. The Omani Sultan
Seyyid Said moved his capital from the city of Muscat to the island of Zanzibar
in the 1840s drawn there by the ivory and slaves, which would enlarge the Arab
slave trade significantly. He then extended his control over polities in Kenya
and Tanzania and began organizing caravans to send into the interior of the
continent. Ivory would be sold to burgeoning Asian and European markets and
slaves would be brought back for use on coastal plantations. It was these
Swahili and Arab traders that would bring Islam to interior kingdoms such as
Buganda.

             The first Muslim caravans arrived in Buganda
in the 1840s in search of ivory during the reign of Kabaka Suna. Frequent
visitors to the palace, they developed a close relationship with the ruling
elite as
well as lower classes and began reading the Quran and teaching classes in the
palace. Perhaps spurred by the growing presence of Christian missionaries who
were gradually spreading across Africa, Muslims felt an obligation to increase
the spread and scope of their own faith. Similar to coastal Swahili areas Islam
here too, was seen as a vehicle to greater power and influence in the wider
world. 

             Islam gained a greater foothold under King
Mutesa in the 1850s. Mutesa desired to spread Bugandan influence both
militarily and commercially and saw Islam as the perfect vehicle to achieve
those ends. He began encouraging his people to read the Quran and he observed
major Muslim holidays (Robinson 158).