|Chito ne mwoun biik alak ku mokoi kumwaitin eng biich. (Tugen)
Anayesengenya wengine kwako, atakusengenya wewe kwa wengine. (Swahili)
Celui qui te dit des autres dira aux autres à propos de toi (French)
The person who tells you about others will tell others about you. (English)
Tugen (Kenya,) Proverb
Background, Meaning and Everyday Use
The Tugen are a sub-group of the Kalenjin people alongside the Nandi, Kipsigis, Keiyo, Pokot, Marakwet, Sabaot, Ogiek, Lembus and Sengwer sub-groups in Kenya. Daniel arap Moi, the second president of Kenya (1978–2002) was from the Tugen sub-group. The Tugen people speak the Tugen language.
The Tugen are further subdivided into four sub-groups or sections:
Traditional Tugen society is the way of life that existed among the Kalenjin people prior to the advent of the colonial period in Kenya. By that time, the Tugen had been semi-nomadic pastoralists of long standing. They had been raising cattle, sheep and goats and cultivating sorghum and pearl millet even before they arrived in Kenya.
The Rift Valley territory as a whole was recognized as a geographic locality of Kalenjin and various Kalenjin sub-groups and had a similar set of classifications of geographic localities within their respective ethnic lands.
Tugen use proverbs and wise sayings in most of their daily life. Mostly proverbs are used during ceremonies like birth, circumcision, marriage and death. They were used to give inspiration, for learning purposes and for warning those who are deviant in the community.
This particular proverb wants to warn people that they should always avoid gossiping about other people. While gossip isn’t always a bad thing, it can be incredibly harmful not only for you, but also others may be affected. It’s good to find ways to limit your own gossip tendencies, as well as not engaging in gossip with other people.
Proverbs 11:13: “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”
2 Corinthians 12:20: “I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”
Contemporary Use And Religious Application
Consider the motives for gossip — jealousy, acceptance, gaining power. They almost always focus on lifting ourselves up by pushing others down. When you say things about others behind their back that are hurtful, derogatory and (usually) unconfirmed, it reflects on who you are. But it also reflects on who you are when you uplift others and focus on the positive. If it is a good reputation, respect or relationships you want, the best way to get it is to demonstrate through your behavior that you are worthy of it.
Most people don’t understand that when they gossip, they aren’t just hurting the object of their comments. They’re also hurting others and themselves. By its very nature, gossip is adversarial. It pits the gossiper against the person being talked about and asks the listener to pick a side.
While gossip aims to attack someone else’s character, spreading and perpetuating negative, unsubstantiated stories about people goes against each of the eight essentials in developing character: commitment, forgiveness, honesty, humility, kindness, patience, respect and selflessness. If you have a problem with someone, respect them enough to go directly to them, humbly and honestly. Listen patiently, and, if needed, forgive them.
A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends (Proverbs 16:28). The purpose of gossip is to tear a person down and erode their self-esteem. It is in that state where people may begin experiencing mental health issues such as eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. When you gossip, you’re telling your audience you are not one to be trusted, that you can be malicious and don’t mind spreading lies. It also tells people that you’re insecure. Keep in mind your audience likely recognizes that while you’re gossiping about someone else today, it could be them in that place tomorrow. Every minute spent gossiping represents a minute when you could be doing something kind for someone else or supporting a friend. It also represents a minute where you could be practicing honesty by shutting down speculation and lies. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret (Proverbs 11:13).
Commit yourself now to avoiding gossip: both consuming it and sharing it. If someone begins to gossip with you, change the topic or speak up for the object of the gossip. You can also take steps to avoid people you know who are gossips. And when you speak about others, first examine your motive. Ask yourself if the information you are about share will do anyone any good. If it won’t, keep it to yourself.
If despite your best efforts you come across gossip, don’t judge the person being talked about. Remind yourself that people are probably talking about you too.
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