By Allen Kisakye

It is not a secret that when you enter a saloon, the hairdresser already has a hot gossip for you. Well, it’s also said if you want to know anything that happens in anyone’s house, a saloon is the one place you can find what you are looking for.

It’s always worse when it comes to local saloons especially those named after the proprietors children.

These saloons are mainly for ladies only and located by the roadside. This enables customers and the hairdressers alike see and hear everything around them.

If it’s your first time to go to a particular saloon, it is sometimes difficult for them to start a gossip in your presence. They will however welcome you with a big smile to make you feel comfortable and also make you feel part of the team.

After they have ascertained your stand with them, they will begin their gossip with; “We have always seen you, but thought you plait your hair in town,” or “We always see you moving alone, are you married or your husband went to Dubai?

Others go for, “You resemble your father, I bet he loves you so much”.

And when you reply, you are finished. They will talk nonstop. They will compliment yoi while rolling their eyes behind your back. Other customers will keep their eyes open just so they can listen in. Occasionally, they’ll chip in. and tell you how you have nice white teeth, or ask how come you have never beaten Jane, well knowing she is sleeping with your boyfriend.

Others will go the extra mile and tell you everything that’s happening around the village.  There is always ‘the woman who be-witched her husband’, ‘how maama Naka nearly died after tempting to abort another man’s baby’, ‘the womanisers of the village’, ‘why maama Naki looks disorganised when her husband has money’. Yes you will find it all there. Saloon ladies always have all sorts of gossip. Some of their customers have also mastered the art of gossiping.

According to Maama Linda, the proprietor of Maama Linda Classic Saloon, Nyanama,  sometimes they do not want to gossip but the customers sometimes begin the ‘kiboozi’ in the saloon and it can be rude of you if you do not reply.

She says that its true ladies gossip a lot in saloons and the biggest talk in the saloons is always about men.

 “It’s only unisex saloons that have little or no gossip. But that is not a guarantee. However,  local saloons have a lot of gossip because ladies feel like it’s the only place they can talk about their husbands and families with fellow women,” she says

A customer, only identified as Suzan, said just like men will go to bars and betting houses for sports and gossip, the saloon is also a ladies’ spot to talk about everything happening around the village. And it is just inevitable.

She said that when they are going to plait your hair in most cases you feel safe and secure when you and the saloon lady create a little friendship. And the only way you can do this is through gossip. This way, you are sure that she will try to make you look good.

“Sometimes it comes natural for us ladies to talk about our husbands and families when with fellow women, because you can always get advice from fellow women,” she says.

“We feel as though at least one of us in the saloon has gone through the same experience or challenge like her especially when in the same age bracket.”

Matters are, however, made worse after you have left and they start gossiping about you.

Others do it purely for entertainment.

Keizer, a casual labourer at a makeshift saloon kiosk in Mutungo says that it always works for them to have a little gossip in the saloon, because it keeps the saloon entertained. This eventually translates into return customers.

“It is never a good sign when customers start gossiping about each other because gossip travels faster than the wind,” Keizer attests.

“Then they converge at the saloon to quarrel of fight, which means more fodder for gossip.”

Another customer, Jaliat says that what has fascinated her most about local saloons is that there is always a lady who knows every witch doctor. However, the day she decides to take you there, everyone will have known even before you leave your house.  That is the power of gossip. And saloon talk.

“But it’s always good to have a ladies’ gossip. It helps us know one another and also to create friendships and there is no suitable place for that than in saloons,” they said.

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