Musambwa Island Uganda





Musambwa Island Uganda

Musambwa Island Uganda : is a series of three rocky islands about 5km away from the shores of kasensero landing site in Rakai district offshores of Sango bay region on Lake Victoria. The enormous island covers about 3hectares, the medium sized one covers 2 hectares and the smallest are rocky outcrops extending out of Lake Victoria. The island derives its name from a local word “Musambwa” which literally means ‘gods’ or ‘spirits’ in Luganda and they appear inform of snakes. The name came up due to the staggering number of snakes in the area which are believed to be spirits rather than normal snakes. Musambwa island boosts one of the highest morality rates in the world given that no one can have sex if not all the spirits will humiliate him or her and the entire population. This has greatly saved the inhabitants from the deadly sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS that is infested on other islands on the lake.

Musambwa Island spiritual myths

According to the myths of this island, it is revealed that two spirits; the male and female were on Lake Victoria howsoever they detached and each of them occupied a different and independent island. It is alleged that the female spirit occupied a smaller and unoccupied island while the male spirit is believed to have occupied a busy and populated island. It was believed that the male spirit hated women and so in a way to please it, the early residents of this island decided that they would never have sex on the island and women were not allowed to ever visit the island. These traditions have since then been passed onto the generations up to date. The early tales prove that once residents had sex whilst on the island, this angered the ‘spirit’ which in turn acted brutally; the lake turned wild, there were storms which washed houses and trees down. The strong winds raised heavy clouds of dust. Furthermore it is said that ‘spirit’ Musambwa took possession of the woman who was involved in the sexual act and she started speaking in unusual way and went on and pointed out the man she was involved with. After all the two were chased from the island following the orders from the meeting of the elders.   

Inhabitants of the Island

The island is a great place worth an adventure in Uganda consisting of nearly (100) people. On this island, you will be amazed how the people placidly live with the numerous snakes, birds and men but not women. Women are not allowed to visit or to go near this island alone as a way of protecting these men getting sexual temptations. The people living there believe that the true land owners are the spirits in form of snakes whilst the people are simply visitors. According to the early testimonies of Emmanuel Kaberenge, one of the very first settlers here who reached the island in 1964, he found only four people residing on this island who informed him about the DO’S and DONT’S on the island and he was advised to pass them to the next generations to come.

Unicity of Musambwa Island

Musambwa Island is the only island where you will find man placidly co-existing with several species of reptiles particularly the snakes which are commonly seen in the men’s houses as well as sharing beds with them. Some of the commonly seen types of snakes on the island are vipers, African rock-pythons, cobras and other reptile species such as monitor lizards. Besides over 2000 snakes living on the island, there are reptiles and a numerous number of bird species, and also a breeding site for the plovers, egrets, cormorants and many more. The different bird species include pied kingfisher, black crake, grey headed gull, long tailed cormorants, pink- backed pelicans, herring gull, common moorhen, greater cormorants, water thick-knee, little egrets, African fish eagle, malachite kingfisher, lapwings, common sandpiper, lesser flamingos, green-backed heron, sacred ibis, Hamerkop, plovers, lesser black-backed gull, spur winged plover, grey heron, yellow billed duck, African fish eagle, Squacco heron and many more that can be viewed while on this island.

How to get there

The island can be accessed by the use of a boat, about 5km away from the shores of kasensero landing site in Rakai district on Lake Victoria, Uganda.

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