Tales from Mtito Andei; It's all about fun, drinks and sex at night
By Gibbs Alexx
| July 30th 2016
As the evening sun slowly sinks beneath the horizon of gently rolling Chyulu hills of Makueni County and darkness rapidly taking over, the little but famously known town, Mtito Andei comes back to life once again after the day’s redundant hours. Mtito Andei a town located along Nairobi Mombasa highway, 231km from Nairobi and 171km to Mombasa is perhaps more famous as a stopover town for travelers going to or from the Coast. At daytime, the sunny town is less dynamic except for the passengers taking refreshments and meals before proceeding with their expeditions.
In fact one will be tempted to conclude that the diminutive town is as drowsy at night as it is during the daytime hours. That is not the case. As the night hours draws near, buses, passengers and mostly long distance trucks stop here for the night dots the town. At around nine o’clock in the evening, the town is fully back to live business activities and transactions.
It is 11pm. A walk along the dusty and poorly lit streets of Mtito Andei town greets one with a mixture of socioeconomic prospects. At the far end of the street in the midst of the truck’s shadows with full cover of the darkness stand shabbily dressed ladies.
From far they appear stranded travellers trying to catch a late truck ride down the coastal region but a closer walk towards them reveals their authentic identity! They are the sex workers of mtito Andai trying to get their regulars.
“Hawa vijana wa shule mnajua kutusumbua sana, si ata mngetuletea donations za cd’s kuliko kuja kutuhoji hapa bure! Hamtusaidii!!” (These varsity students are not helping, instead of coming with free condom donations you come here empty handed and try interviewing us). Complained one of them when one approached for questioning by one of moi university students.
After a lengthy persuasive, one of them agrees to talk to the crew but sought anonymity citing her security as the main reason. “I came here in the year 2008 from Nakuru after being introduced to the place by my friend. This place is good for business especially from the months of October to December when most people are flocking the coastal town of Mombasa for holidays making stopovers here for the night. In a good night I can take in up to five clients” said Ruth (not her real name). Ruth cited the passing of Standard Gauge Railway near the town as one of the main reasons making Mtito a sleepless town flourishing with business throughout the night.
A walk further from the shadows to the light is Pita, an open shoe seller who has been in the town for the last 10 years. He states that his business does well at night as compared to daytime hours simply because the town is full of ‘customers’ who are on transit, locals and even the tourists at night hours.
“In a day I can sell let’s say a maximum of five pairs but when the night sets in, is when my business does well and on a single night I can sell up to 20 pairs of my shoes plus other beauty ornaments as u can see here.” says Pita. He added that it is a whole night business until the diminutive hours of the morning. “hampa hakuna kulala hamdi asumbuhi, wateja ni wengi tokea saa moya jioni (We don’t usually sleep here till morning! Customers are in large numbers as from seven in the evening)” Pita in poor Swahili.
As the cameras continues rolling and flash lights taking the small town by storm, Murume a miraa seller quietly charts the night away outside his small kiosk cum miraa den with a friend. Murume who hails from Meru County came to Mtito Andei from Garissa a year ago and laments that his business has continued flourishing since he moved in.
“Most of my customers are the truck drivers and they usually start moving in from seven in the evening all the way till morning hours, we don’t sleep, instead we take shifts with my brother here” said Murume. When asked on matters of security, Murume said that the state of security in Mtito at night is tremendous and attributed this to the adjacent Mtito Andei police station.
Mwadime a long distance truck driver usually makes his stop over to and from Mombasa at Mtito. As the truck’s engine goes off and Mwadime alights from the truck, his facial expressions tells it all. Armed with a cigarette lighter and a cigarette stick in his mouth, Mwadime smiles then lights his cigar before posing to respond to one of the questions.
“This place has the best facilities in terms of drinks, catering and other private services. We get all what we need here” said Mwadime jokingly. He continues “I usually travel far from Mombasa all the way to Rwanda or South Sudan and this takes a lot of days, nearly a week. Being far from the family all the time is a challenging factor for most of this long distance drivers and sometimes when they spend the night far from home, they face a lot of emotional challenges some of them ending up with these beauties your seeing around here” paused Mwadime.
According to him spending a night at Mtito is inevitable and this always keeps him ‘busy and entertained’ throughout the night. And as if to echo Mwadime’s sentiments, a long line of long distance trucks are already lining up along the roadsides ready to kill the night at Mtito.
At 12 midnight nearly all hotels and clubs in Mtito are still open each with a good number of customers still enjoying themselves. At a small room sandwiched subsequently between a hotel and a pub are small boys exchanging cue sticks in turns playing pool table games.
A good observation from a closer range approximates them to be from 12 to 18years old. The younger one seems so genius and even goes ahead to challenge one of the varsity students to play against him. ‘Karibuni Mtito wazito, mmefika, hapa umri tunaachia nyumbani! wanaume ni kuhustle” said one of them who seemed to be the older in age. Pool playing in Mtito is a whole night activity till early in the morning.
Asked on their levels of education, the infantile youngsters presuppose and continue with their play paying little attentions to the questions. Here education seems a luxury commodity and the ones who are lucky to have accessed it are considered masters if not kingmakers.
At around 12.30am, a club is still open against Mututho’s 11pm closure time thanks to large numbers of customers still in enjoying themselves others making new arrivals. At the far corner of the bar sits two ladies in knee length miniskirts quietly sipping their two glasses of beer and looking ambitious probably waiting for an opportunity to strike in and decorate their night.
A little step towards them sends a flash of smile down their faces. “Welcome, here’s a seat” said one of them as she stretches her hands and points at the empty chairs adjacent to them. “Hey customer leo kumekauka mbaya! Itakuaje?” said Ann (not her real name)
“We are sorry madam, but we are students and we are conducting a research on Mtito…What? Students? Kwendeni uko! Interrupted Ann after learning that we were on another mission! Our effort to interview them bears no fruits as they hide their faces with their hands and threatening to smash our cameras despite our assurance and promising not to take any photos.
At 1pm, we are out again. The hotel is still full of customers many trying to beat the late night cold with a cup of tea.
As we head back to the bus just across the road next to a petrol station sits Richard on a bench in his small fast foods and drinks selling kiosk. It is around 2am and his shop is still wide open. “Pole kwa baridi buda, we are students ” we introduced ourselves. “Oh karibuni sana” he said as he showed us to a bench.
Richard has been in Mtito since his childhood days and refers to the town as a busy place where sleeping is like a prestigious activity to anyone owning a business around. “I sell more than one grade of these soft drinks at night either to the bar businesses or travelers going down the coast” said Richard.
His business has expanded and he owns two other deports around the town thanks to the large number of customers at night. The night will soon be over and our journey to Mombasa is soon to begin. As the bus engine booms at 4.30am and the driver accelerating faster towards Voi town, all the brains in the bus are very tired and calling for a rest.
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