Dr Clarke: Men Overtake Women In Art of Gossiping

recipe geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Gossip is defined as ‘casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, click typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true’.

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In my childhood those who gossiped were labelled as ‘fishwives’, one definition of which is a man or woman who collects other people’s gossip and spreads it around to all and sundry.

This was one of the more flattering definitions of a fishwife, who was also considered loud, vulgar and low class.

Gossiping in western cultures has traditionally been associated with women, because women were thought to have time on their hands, while their husbands were out working.

However, in Uganda the gender seems to have changed, and it is more often the men who have the time to gossip, while the women are going about their work.


One is much more likely to find a group of men hanging around than a group of women.

The boda boda drivers have nothing much more to do, as they sit at their stages waiting for customers, than watch the traffic and the passers-by. During this time they are certainly not reading economics or doing higher education degrees; most of the time they are just hanging around, so the only thing to fill their day is gossip.

Another group who have little to do are guards, who are not exactly overextended opening the gate, so they watch people and gossip.

In Kampala the women, who in the past have been labelled as gossips, are busy working in office jobs, or climbing the corporate ladder, while men congregate around a game of ludo, or mweso, or the new phenomenon of sports gambling halls – and do what?

Gossip, about football, about girls, about politics, about the passers-by, about well known personalities – because they have nothing else to fill their heads.

As a local politician I have much interaction with people at all levels, though I don’t speak Luganda.

Of course my lack of Luganda can be a disadvantage, but then again sometimes it is a protection.

Much gossip is in the vernacular, most of the insults and lewd comments come out better in Luganda, but when people are insulting to me, or gossiping about me, I don’t understand and am not bothered.

Now if this was vital information that I needed to know it would be a great shame, but the vast majority of these comments are not important; they are just gossip and hearsay, which is usually hurtful to the person being gossiped about.

However, my lack of knowledge of Luganda does not prevent people telling me the important stuff – the information I need to know.

The place of gossip in our society is not just that it gives people something to do, but that it has become a major influence in shaping people’s perceptions of what is going on in the nation.

I still find it unbelievable that Ugandans, including some in high places, are so influenced by the current gossip that they often don’t bother to check their facts.

A rumour once went around that I had sold my hospital to Indians.

I found myself being told by people who should have known better that I had sold IHK.

The funny thing was that when I said it was not true, they still did not believe me.

This was amazing, since I should know who owns my own hospital, but it shows the power of gossip.

We have now reached the point where some newspapers write the gossip, and as the saying goes, ‘if it is in the newspaper it must be true’.

Today gossip has become so powerful that one does not need any facts – if you have an agenda just start a rumour because that is what people will choose to believe.

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