By Harold Ayodo
They come in all shapes, sizes and age groups. A classy one will set you back Sh200, but in some places like Kondele, you can cough Sh50 walk away with a bamba 50 — especially at dawn.
Men who do not want to use protection pay double, never mind that at 15 per cent, the HIV and Aids prevalence in Kisumu doubles the national average, which, according to a 2009 survey by Unhabitat, is 6.3 per cent.
Kutuma salamu (a euphemism for giving head) costs only Sh20 in Kondele and Sh100 in higher-end red light spots. Most of the bamba 50s come wearing bathroom slippers, but they are adored because they are pocket friendly.
There are a few who do not accept cash, but appreciate?stewed fish by the lakeside before few rounds of affordable drinks at pubs that offer live bands playing Ohangla, Rumba or Benga music.
Some even offer credit services and ‘invoice’ their clients at the end of the month, unlike their peers on Koinange Street, Nairobi, who insist on payment before service. Other men even pay after mutually agreed periods, either via cash or mobile phone money transfer.
Others are nearly ‘married’ to clients as they even cook, wash and iron for their regular male clients who pay handsomely — say Sh300 a night.
It could be coincidence that men in Kisumu generally marry later than those in other towns, as recently revealed by the Kenya Urban Reproductive Health Baseline Survey. But the possibility that this trend arises because sex workers are affordable and offer ‘extras’ cannot be ignored.
A tour of some of the popular red areas along Oginga Odinga Street, Ogada Street, Kisumu beer belt (near the bus park), Wayside and Kondele tells the story of a town a awash with sex workers. In fact, the opening of new clubs within the Central Business District has also boosted an already flooded market.
On a dry day at the beer belt, Anyango, for instance, is ready to spend the night with a male client who can buy her bottle of beer and give her Sh50 as boda boda ‘fare’ at dawn citing a bad economy and too much supply.?
“Kiwanja siku hizi imejaa, kupata wanaume wanatoa mia ni balaa (the market is nowadays so flooded that men who can pay Sh100 are rare,” Anyango says.