Episode 19: A Visiting Prostitute

Nairobi escorts

Courtesy of an organization I met through this blog, I have been on a working break. I retreated out of town to do some ‘ participatory ‘ research about various attitudes among prostitutes in rural areas. Supposedly when we are given questionnaires to fill out or are formally interviewed we don’t give honest answers. My brief was to join what the organization called ‘prostitution communities’ in selected centers in the eastern districts of Central province, and from my interaction with my fellow workers get to know their thoughts and stories. I had an issue or two regarding the methodology and purpose of the research, but the prospects of some extra coin and adventure made me compromise.

Due to the cutthroat nature of our profession prostitution communities are not so closely knit. At the face of it, like when we attack a man who has beaten one of us, we may look close, but the truth of the matter is that there is a lot of backstabbing, hatred, kuendeana, and trying to pull each other down. At any time among a group of girls, there will be one who is hated most perhaps because she is beautiful, popular with men, lucky, crafty, or something of the sort. Anything to bring her down is highly welcomed by the rest. Such things make it easy for anyone with enough will to penetrate any prostitution community.

My first stop was a small town which acts as the headquarters of one of the newly created districts. Ignoring the nitty gritty of how I fit in, I was told the administration of the town, apparently reacting to protests by the clergy, had decided to ‘kill’ prostitution. So occasionally the police and whoever else was involved raided lodgings expecting to find fornicators. If the busted couple didn’t have a marriage certificate with them, they were in for prostitution. But the ingenious girls had changed strategy and instead of sleeping with men in lodgings, they used a small empty building which served as a church on Sundays. I visited the church and only saw a few rickety wooden chairs. But the girls knew it was only a matter of time before they were busted. I asked one of them what would happen when the moralists caught up with them in the church, she said ” Naachia mungu.” ( I leave it all to God).

The efforts of the town’s bosses reminded me of a story I  read some time ago about a mayor in the US who wanted to be remembered as the man who rid the city of loose women, to that effect he decided to start a radio program ” We’re going to call it The John Hour,” he announced. “because ‘john’ has become a slang phrase for a prostitute’s customer. We are going to announce the names of all men against whom convictions for patronage of prostitutes have been obtained. The threat of public scorn acts as a severe deterrent to the patronage of loose women.”

The plan seemed foolproof but the mayor did not take into account the many people who wanted any form of publicity. His announcement had the effect of bringing hundreds of johns to the town in the hope of hearing their names broadcast publicly.

I visited a couple of other towns, some quiet in the interior.  The adventures were varied and some rather humorous, hopefully someday when this is over I will exhaustively write about them. In one of the towns, men didn’t want to sleep with me. Not knowing I understood their language they wondered how a strange ‘pretty’ girl could just walk to a bar, buy herself drinks, throw a couple of rounds, and not mind when men touched her. They said I was some sort of jini. (ghost).

The last town I visited, and where I spent quite some time was much bigger though still rural. After an initial hard time building trust, I became popular with the low-end girls, probably because I was from Nairobi, had money to buy drinks, and claimed to have seen and done it all. They knew of Koinange Street and had dreams of coming to the city. I talked about the internet and my blog, but they understood none of it. However the most ridiculous part was that they slept with men even for as low as Ksh.50. I slept with a couple of men for ‘research’ purposes, sometimes taking fifty shillings for a session. The men were simple, quick, and didn’t have any demands. But still, the amount was quite low. In that town which starts with a K, the prostitutes are nicknamed CC. CC meant City Carton, the area in the town where prostitutes were to be found.

The climax of it all was when I was approached by a group of four boys who had sneaked from a nearby high school. The rough woman who housed me had told me boys from the school were frequent customers. Anyway, the boys said they liked me and between the four of them, they had a hundred and fifty shillings. Whether or not  I agreed to sleep with four high school students is another matter altogether, but you know how boys in this city break their virginity.

( Back to Nairobi and the city’s adventures)

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