The Ssese Island came into existence about 12000 years ago when a tectonic shift caused an elevated basin situated between two main arms of the great rift valley to flood, forming Lake Victoria as we know it today. Little is known about the earliest inhabitants of Ssese, but some oral traditions associated with the creation of Buganda claim that its founder Kintu hailed from the islands of the Gods. In pre-colonial times it was customary for the kings of Buganda to visit the Islands and pay tribute to the several balubaale whose main shrines to Mukasa, spirit of the lake, on Bubembe.
Some Buganda historical sources romanticize this relationship, claiming that in pre-colonial times Ssese due to its exalted status was never attacked by Buganda, nor was it formally incorporated into the mainland kingdom.
In reality, while Ssese probably did enjoy a degree of autonomy, it was clearly a vassal of Buganda for at least a century prior to the colonial era. Further more while the Baganda revered the Islands’ spirits, Stanley recorded that they looked down on their human inhabitants for their “coal-black colour, timidity, superstition, and generally uncleanly life”
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