SECTIONS

By David Odongo

Public university students admit­ted to prestigious faculties like engi­neering, law and medicine have be­come the target of wealthy women who want to bear children with the ‘right’ genes, multiple sources have told The Nairobian.

The young men, considered to be the sharpest brains to come out of the Kenyan education system, are paid at least Sh50,000 to sleep with older women in no-strings-attached arrangements, whose sole aim is to ensure the woman conceives. Hav­ing desirable physical attributes is usually an added advantage.

“It is true, that is something very rampant in our school,” says Thomas Omondi, a third year engineering student. “Students from my school are thought to be very intelligent and some women actually pay to have sex with us so that they can collect our seed. I have not done it but I know three of my friends who have fathered babies with older women. They are usually put on a monthly re­tainer to sleep with the women then receive a lumpsum payment when the relationship is terminated after the woman becomes pregnant,” he says, promising to introduce our mole to some of the ‘sperm do­nors’.

True to form, he takes our snitch to Jimmy*, 24, a fourth year engineering student. Jimmy is not very happy about being outed as a ‘sperm donor’, although after be­ing assured his identity will not be compromised, he opens up.

“It’s not something you can be open about, what if my parents know? My father will kill me,” he says.

He admits that for three months he had been on a Sh30,000 retain­er from a well-to-do woman in her mid-30s.

“She told me that she wasn’t looking for a long-term relation­ship. She only wanted to meet me when she was ‘ready’ and would pay me Sh30,000 per month. But I first had to take a medical test,” says Jimmy. He adds that on the third month, the woman got preg­nant and gave him Sh50,000 as a last installment. They have never communicated since then and he does not want to know anything about the baby.

“I am a bit glad she cut commu­nication because even though she had promised me that if we get a ba­by she won’t force me to take respon­sibility, I was a bit skeptical, thinking she might go against her word,” says Jimmy.

He admits it is an arrangement three of his friends at the school of engineering has had with several women.

“I think women just want intelli­gent children, so they pick intelligent fathers. There’s nothing wrong with that,” he insists.

But if you thought only single women seek the services of young men like Jimmy, then think twice. “Some of the women who have approached my friends are married. They therefore usually meet once or twice in a hotel. They usually just call when they feel they need you,” says Jimmy.

Other than the individual sperms-for-cash arrangements, university students are also making between Sh4,000 to Sh10,000 donating their sperms to private clinics.

Another student from a separate city university admits that when some of his colleagues are broke, they meet and go to a clinic in West­lands where they donate their sperms, and have their particulars taken, including pictures.

“I have many friends who sell their sperms. It is not something we can proudly declare to the world but among us we share information. It is all about the money,” says a communications student.

George Maina says he has donat­ed his sperms four times.

“I lose nothing, but I gain money. If I could have an arrangement like some of my friends where I get paid to make a woman pregnant, I wouldn’t mind,” says the final-year student. He admits that money from the sperm donation has kept him go­ing through lean patches, especially in his last year at campus.

“My best friend was lucky, he got a woman who was taking care of all his financial needs. We all envied him, and immediately the woman got pregnant, she unceremoniously dumped him and the lavish lifestyle he was so used to ended,” says Mai­na.

Their ‘sperm donations’ are, how­ever, not guided by any law. The Nai­robian was unsuccessful in its at­tempts to contact the Westlands clinic named by the students.

According to Dr John Ong’ech, the Director of the Reproductive Health Services at the Kenyatta Na­tional Hospital, it is estimated that one-fifth of all Kenyan men are im­potent, hence the increased need for sperms.

“At Kenyatta, we have a sperm bank that has been in operation since 1995 and every month, up to five women are successful impreg­nated with sperms from our bank,” says Dr Ong’ech.

He says in Kenya the main causes of infertility in men are oligospermia (a condition where the man has low sperm count) and azoospermia (a condition where men has zero sperm count).

According to lawyer Daniel Odhi­ambo, there is no legislation to con­trol sperm donation.

“Most of the medics practising are simply guided by ethics. They just adhere to their sense of morali­ty” says Odhiambo, adding that the only time a donation process will goagainst the law is if the donor is co­erced or misled into donating.

“Maybe if the medic didn’t take proper steps to ensure the sperm is safe before inseminating a woman and maybe the woman contracts a disease, there can be a basis for a lawsuit but so far there are no laws governing sperm donation,” Odhi­ambo says.

He says the government in 2004 constituted a taskforce to craft laws and policies that would govern sperm banks and artificial insemi­nation by donors but nothing much has come out of it.

Internationally, the Kenyan sperm has been in demand ever since President Barack Obama won the 2008 US elections. For example, in 2009 the Swedish press reported that the country’s sperm banks had a list of 125 women, who wanted to be inseminated with nothing short of the Kenyan sperm. Kenyans liv­ing in Sweden were even asked to report to Karolinska Hospital ‘ur­gently’ if they were willing to do­nate.

“In the Department of Repro­duction at the hospital, beautiful, young and blond haired Swedish girls are waiting to help with the ex­traction of sperms. What you need to do if you are interested is to call Karolinska Hospital and say that you are a Kenyan who wants to do­nate sperms in order to assist those in need ... the collection is done in a bedroom-like environment and that the cute collectors readily take instructions to align them with the donor’s demands especially on the preferred method of extraction. The numbers of donations are restricted to one per week.”

Even Kogello, the birthplace of Obama’s father, was in the news as it had become the centre of ‘Ro­mantic tourism’ after some foreign women came in search of the next Obama.