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.