Like in any other Kenyan town, prostitution is a common phenomenon in Nakuru. However, there is a bunch of hookers in the town who have taken the game to a whole new level. They are so organised, they can make your average chama look like a big joke. These women of the night have a ‘merry-go-round’, which has been in existence for a couple of decades now. Here, older members retire and new ones get recruited. They meet weekly and each contributes Sh1,000, which is given to one of them for personal development.
As if that is not enough, they have taken the game a notch higher and, together with their like-minded ‘partners in crime’ within the town, now boast of a sacco of sorts. They save their money through the sacco and give loans to members. At one popular night club, where the majority of the said hookers ply their trade, I bump into one who is “devastatingly beautiful”.
She was curvy and attractive, she can easily cause a muscle in a man’s salivary gland to tear! She introduces herself as Emily and began marketing her goods and services. I tell am new in town and requests to buy her a drink before we can talk of any other ‘business’. With the ice broken she opens up and talks of her experience for the last four years.
“This is my fourth year in the trade. There are several groups of ‘merry-go-rounds’ (for prostitutes) in this town. Each group has active members who meet regularly to strategise, discuss challenges facing them, and issues such as investment. In ours, each one of us contributes a Sh1,000 which is given to one member,” she said.
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Most of these women, Emily says, are single mothers with children who need basic needs such as food, school fees and so on. Thus, she adds, the end of every month, they also contribute to a fund where they are allowed to take loans at a small interest. Emily says one founding-member in the ‘merry-go-round’ she belongs to has taken two of her kids through secondary school.
“These groups are very helpful. In ours, many of us are living large. I know so many members with plots and others are putting up buildings. In fact, the one who recruited me has two children who have just completed college,” she said.
She quickly adds that she is now relatively old and sort of ‘retired’.
“But she is a bit old and hardly does this work... although she comes once in a while,” chuckles Emily.
According to Emily, members meet every Friday to plan, discuss and, among other things, strategise for the weekend and weeks ahead.
“A lot of partying starts on Friday. Among the issues we discuss is the minimum amount each individual should charge her clients. The amount is arrived at according to the time of the month. If it is end-month, members know clients have money and we all agree to charge more,” she discloses.
These service rates, she says, do not remain constant. They range between Sh3,000 and Sh10,000 per night, especially on end-months. She adds that underhand tactics to win more clients such as lowering prices are frowned upon. After Emily excused herself for a while, a certain Eric, a reveller, joins the table. He acknowledges that prostitution seems to be very lucrative in Nakuru because the town gets many visitors both local and foreign, coming for tourism, meetings, seminars, workshops, retreats and many other functions. This being the case, he said, there will always be many new revellers who throng the many night clubs and that is why women of the night make a killing.
“These women make good money, especially from foreigners. Early in the night locals can hardly afford them. Residents only stand a chance much later in the night, when they are a bit desperate,” the patron explains, adding that they are very choosy.
“My first time here was very interesting. I had attended a seminar on Horticulture in this town. After a day of hard work, I resolved to unwind in this nightclub. As I enjoyed my third beer, I got attracted to one of these beauties and beckoned her to come and sit next to me,” he narrates.
He ordered a beer for her. After a few bottles, at around 10 pm, he asked her to go to his hotel room for a more ‘interesting’ session. But before they could head there, they had the small matter of payment.
“I thought she would ask for, say, Sh500. But shock on me. She wanted to collect Sh3,000 from me for a few minute’s session. I persuaded her to accept Sh1,000 without success, and she stuck to her initial fee,” he said.
That he had bought her five bottles of beer did not matter. She left him after discovering he was a ‘difficult’ and ‘stingy’ client. Disappointed, Erick had no option but to drown his sorrows in more beer.
Most of the men they entertain are married men reveals yet another prostitute only known as Anne. She recalls how one day a client travelled from Nairobi and lied to his wife he had gone to watch a Kenyan Premier League football match where he got stranded, yet he was busy entertaining himself all night long. She says those who subscribe to the ‘merry-go-round’ are very disciplined and when one goes against the laid-down rules and regulations, heavy fines are imposed as punishment. These women are well known by staff at the joints they operate from. The bouncers offer them security.
“If you want to know we are well guarded, just fail to pay us. We have their contacts and call them from anywhere we are with our clients,” reveals Emily.
You can’t operate in some of their ‘strongholds’ if you are not one of them. And it is even scandalous if you, as a stranger, try to use underhand tactics to win over more clients like offering service on credit. They use all means necessary to frustrate your operations, including beating you up.