Gather round and let me tell you a story about the prostitutes of Kilifi.
After flying to Mombasa to dance to Taarab and driving into the dusts of Tsavo to photograph Zebras’ butts for days on end, a group of Mzungus found themselves somewhere in Kilifi.
Being staunch Christians, the tourists were dismayed to discover that Kilifi was a hub for sex tourism, where wealthy randy men would fly in from all over the world and have sex with girls so young that they still smelled of their mothers’ milk. Most of Kilifi, I am told, looked like an extension of Sabina Joy with floozies who had sin printed all over their skirts parading themselves outside houses of sin…
It was a sad state of affairs, and the Mzungus wanted to change this. They gathered a few of the women whom they intended to rescue from the jaws of prostitution and asked them what they really needed. “We want to learn foreign languages,” they said. “Teach us Spanish, French and Italian.”
When the Mzungus flew back to America and narrated their experiences, the story about the women in Kilifi touched their compatriots much more than their encounters with the man-eaters of Tsavo. A harambee was hurriedly convened and NGOs chomoad thousands of dollars to set up language schools for the girls in Kilifi. They would fly back after a few days with America’s finest linguists in tow.
The pilot course enrolled a group of about 100 girls and took six months. Deciding that their good work in Kilifi was done, the Mzungus took hundreds of pictures, packed their bags, hopped into one of those grasshoppers at Moi International Airport, and left.
A year later, someone in the US wanted to know how their language project had changed Kilifi for the better. “Why don’t we go back and see how our girls are faring on with life?” This time, they brought with them a few journalists who were salivating to win a Pulitzer for chronicling how the world’s oldest profession could be eliminated.
Shock on them! The sleazy nightlife in Kilifi was now on steroids! The business of flesh was booming even better than President Kenyatta’s net worth since he took office. When they finally traced some of the 100 girls from their pilot programme, they discovered that all of them were more deeply enmeshed into sex tourism!
“What went wrong?” They asked the girls. “Didn’t we empower you to quit the sex trade?”
“Quit sex trade?” They answered back, puzzled.
“Yeah! Didn’t we spend six months teaching you girls foreign languages?”
“Ooh… Now we see!” Said the girls. “We told you that we wanted to learn foreign languages so we could communicate better with our clients from Italy, France, Spain and the rest of the world. We wanted to use our knowledge of the language to negotiate for better rates from our sex work, not to quit prostitution!”