Is Kenya Ready To Embrace Prostitution?






Based on a true story…

On the week that begun on Sunday 13thJune, 2004, I set out on a journey to Nairobi on foot from Mlolongo. Not that I was out to enjoy the dry landscape that surrounds the area, but I was running away from home, completely hopeless at life and tired of everything that was happening around me. My heart was messed up. I was all pale, turning 16 that Tuesday but I just wanted to die. With my walk-man in my pocket and the Sunday Nation in my right hand, I braved the tormenting distance, numb to the realization that I was really harming myself. I had been expelled from school at the time. I felt lost, and the constant quarrels with my parents only added salt to injury.

On this day mum quarreled me over my failure to fetch fresh water. We still had a challenge in getting the commodity those days in Mlolongo. I was on the wrong, but I hated the fact that she raised her voice to the roof each time she was unhappy with something. It was nagging. I had grown up that way but had never learnt to get used to it. So I decided to run away from that life, hence my on foot journey to the city. I never wanted anyone to know where I was going. The only money I had in my pocket was the twenty shilling coin that mum had given me to buy water with.

With a wrist watch on, I started out from around 5pm, focused on the road, of course very much aware that I had made a very nasty decision. I had no time to care. All I wanted was piece of mind – some peace.

It took me four good hours to reach the Nairobi Central Business District. It was just about to hit 9pm and I had not stopped to rest anywhere, after that grueling twenty kilometer walk. I felt like my legs were on fire. The city centre was scarcely populated, being a Sunday night. I was not hungry at all, perhaps out of the anger that boiled up in my stomach. The rest of that week was a perfect whirlwind.

I turned myself into a street boy without a single trace of regret.  I felt I was free, free from the top voice scenes that made my eardrums scream. Nobody bothered me except the police on patrol who interrogated me once in a while. I felt happy, or at least shortly, but I sure felt the sense of freedom. I survived on milk and snacks shoplifted from supermarkets around town. Yes, it was that bad.

June is a cold month in Nairobi. I found a resting place just below Loita House. But I hardly rested. The wonderfully lit streets could not let me sleep. I walked through uptown, marveling at the beautiful scenes of light that unfolded right in front of my eyes. I had never seen anything like it. You would think I was this boy who had been damped in town fresh from the village. Tell you Alicia Key’s song with Jay Z – New York, makes a lot of sense to me.  And then in the mélange of my escapades, my feet landed me on Koinange Street…

I came across these fleshy lasses covered up in miniature garments. Of course I had heard about them before, we had just never met. It intrigued me that the Holy Family Basilica Catholic Church stood right at the end of the street, just a few meters from where these beauteous ladies plied their dirty trade. I felt that was so ironic of life. I was scared inside, as I silently passed by them, thinking to myself that my father would kill me had he known where I was. They stood in groups, one after another, laughing out to the night, waiting for clients who mostly came in sleek cars. I realized just how much night life is fast. These were things I was witnessing for the first time, and at a very tender age.

Just as I thought I had passed them, I heard a soft voice call out,

Niaje boy! Mbona kukunja sura hivyo?’ (Young boy, why the stone face?).

I obviously knew I was the one being referred to so I tried to smile back at the direction where I heard the voice come from. They went on to ask me to stay with them instead of walking aimlessly. A request to which I could only oblige. Next thing I knew, I was already making friends. So I hang out with them during the nights. I did not understand why they liked me, but I felt a sense of belonging when I was with them. Perhaps because we all seemed to be lost, or were at least looking for something that was not found in the ordinary life. They could protect me each time the guards came to ask what I was doing sitting around there.

‘Huyo ni wetu’ (He is ours), they would say.

But each time the City Council van showed its skin or they heard rumors that the police were around, they would flee like scared birds, and I’d be left alone, ‘naked’. I saw a number of them get caught. They would show up again a few hours later, I think after bribing the askaris.

They told me how hard life was in the cold. That they did not like the fact that they had to do that job so I shouldn’t view them as evil women. That some of them were actually married and even had children, but their husbands did not provide for their families so they had to look for alternative means to sustain things. Life was crazy. It was funny seeing them report to ‘work’ in decent clothing before changing into their ‘work attire’. It was furthermore scary, but I came to realize that commercial sex workers are just normal human beings like the rest of us. They too have feelings and worries. They are learned and have a conscience too. But they need our help.

I am totally against that sort of life.  It certainly is hazardous for anyone and everyone who indulges in it. How sad it was to see young, beautiful women getting wasted in the streets in the name of earning a living.  Surely, dignity is greater than that.

If you thought that the trade only goes on in uptown, then you’re very much mistaken. Things get thicker but cheaper once you move to downtown. I saw it all.

That was eight years ago. I can only imagine what sort of a mammoth the trade has evolved into today. Well, I got out of the streets after some time. It’s another dramatic story altogether. These are my testimonies which I hope to tell people someday, that God can never let you go if He has plans for you in the future. We shall talk about it another day. I look back and ask myself what happened to those women. Are they alive?  Are they still in it? Are they okay?

Nairobi mayor, George Aladwa, has been the talk of town lately. He made a statement recently citing that the City Council of Nairobi could review the laws concerning prostitution and its legality. Of course it did not go down well with majority of Nairobians, and you can be very much sure the rest of the country too, since we honestly do not want to follow the likes of the Netherlands and some parts of the USA. At least not for as long as Kenya remains in Africa.

While the mayor insists that the idea is only as far as a proposal, many Kenyans have imprudently interpreted it as already legalized, while protests against the vice rage on.

It is a fact, prostitution is very much thriving in Nairobi, and its roots are as deep as those of the Mugumo tree. It is impossible to phase it out by mere laws. The actions and strategies needed to dislodge the network must involve the sex workers themselves, and in goodwill for that matter. Nobody would like their daughter, friend, or wife to end up trading their body in neither the streets nor anywhere else.

But to begin with, does everyone agree that prostitution is a problem? Is Kenya really ready to embrace it yet? And while others take it as a human right, is it truly right? And will it even end either? Depending on your thoughts about these insights, what role can you play on an individual level to help out? Which way will you take, and why?

Whatever your decision, be Kenyan, true to your roots.

Post Author: Rixpoet

0 thoughts on “Is Kenya Ready To Embrace Prostitution?

  • Kowa litho

    (February 8, 2012 - 10:53 am)

    Ideally,from ur last words askin Kenyans 2 refer 2 the African roots and Kenyan dignity,u r simply tellin them,NO!!!This vice is bad!!But i tend 2 argue on this matter,r we on the road 2 b called a failed African state if we legalise prostitution,will we chased out of the many members organisations in Africa Kenya is involved in e.g AU,ECOWAS,IGAD and the many others?Does it also mean that illegalisin the vice will stop men and women to go ‘into the streets to look 4 a living’?I doubt….

    • Rixpoet

      (February 9, 2012 - 2:10 am)

      Thank you for your insights, Kowa
      Some people argue that at the world’s rate of life, prostitution is actually on the rise and it is a wave no one can stop. That the government of Kenya had better embrace it and even look for ways which it can earn revenue from the vice. I am asking myself, if we do not want the women in our lives to end up in the cold streets as twilight girls, why should we wish it for other women whom we do not know? Can’t we do something as a nation to help them?

  • lorijss

    (February 15, 2012 - 8:58 am)

    Wow interesting post, prostitution is on the rise in many different countries around the world and I think that it is sad. No human being should ever feel like they have to sell themselves so cheap, the history of the world has always been about people selling themselves short. Provide more economical opportunities and I think that this kind of trading on the streets will be cleaned up at least there will be a lot less prostitution.

  • Laban G. Gitau

    (May 22, 2012 - 7:27 pm)

    Pray does Mayor Aladwa have a teenage over 18 daughter? That would be a good starting point for rationalizing the trade. He should be bold enough to advise her to ignore school or any academic advancement, as that is not needed in the “commercial sex trade” and go for the quick money on the street. Does it sound preposterous, but not to Aladwa when propagating and justifying this dehumanizing and aberrant social trade for the other person, but not him his family. Why do leaders think they live in some sort of untouchable on earth, with the right to legislate on laws that dehumanize others? Is the greed for office so strong that Aladwa, and others of his ilk, must try to hoodwink the few confused girls on the street, so as to get votes and retain the office he so truly is abusing? Why cant Nairobians choose capable leaders and wipe the slate clean of the half baked councillors who have reduced the integrity of City Hall to the rubbles? I dare Aladwa to try his medicine on himself and, while at it, if it is such a clean job, why not allow your wife to also try a hand at it and consolidate income in your grand home? That would keep you from wanting to dip your hands into the council funds. Arrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhh!
    I am even angry with myself for the innuendo against Aladwa’s daughter and wife. I know they are good people who do not subscribe to the madness of father and husband but in Kenya must keep silent as their father goes naked, but custom constraints him from correcting the “king.”

  • victor

    (September 6, 2016 - 7:50 pm)

    however much you guys argue, it will never be as it is for that person prostituting themselves. in my opinion, they should just let them be. it is their safest bet in life. why not discuss that person who goes there to quench their thirst??. and why would you tax someone using their bodies to get by in life?!.

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