The assumption that all Ugandan women are submissive is a stereotype.
Before coming to work in Kenya, I had come to Nairobi on holiday and for a few speaking dos. But it never dawned on me that what most Kenyans thought about Ugandans was a little exaggerated. Then I got a job offer with The Standard Group and began to get questions on whether or not certain things about Ugandan women were true. So let’s lay the cards on the table.
In a number of cultures, the girl child from the age of 13 going up, is brought up to know she will at one point get married. An aunt is locally referred to as senga in Luganda language (of over 30 different languages in Uganda). So in my language Lukhonzo, she will be called sunghali. Usually she’s got little or no formal education at all. However, now that we are all going to school, we have the formally educated ones.
The aunt’s role is to bring up a girl knowing too well how to please and satisfy her man. So she will teach her how to cook, clean, speak, get intimate and how to get the man to give her what she wants.
A girl is taught the power of seduction and how to use it positively with the man she will meet in future. By the time a Ugandan girl is getting married, she knows what to do as a wife and in case she will need advice, she can always talk to her aunt.
But let’s get this straight, not all Ugandan women adhere to what they have been brought up to do by their aunties. And times have changed. Yes, a Ugandan woman will go on her knees to greet her elders, but not all of them will do so. The mind-set has evolved and girls will take in what they think is right and leave what they think will become too much of submissiveness.
Now this doesn’t make the Kenyan woman any different. I’ve come to witness that Kenyan women are arguably just as wonderful when dealing with their men even without the ‘aunt’s role’ in their lives. The perception that all Ugandan women are submissive can form a heated debate among some Ugandan men.
The past few years have seen increased inter-marriage between Ugandan women and Kenyan men, Ugandan men and Kenyan women and other nationalities. The Ugandan man will say (referring to his Kenyan woman) – ‘I love that she is aggressive yet submissive’. The Kenyan man will say ‘she’s submissive yet smart.’ A good number of girls have been brought up without these obsessive cultural teachings and are all women!
But… if you meet a woman shouting at her man on top of her voice, look again carefully — don’t say she’s Kenyan. She could very well be Ugandan or any other nationality!