Nairobi’s nightlife is enchanting. Traffic jams on Friday nights are a common occurrence as people rush down to a favourite club or event in either part of the city.
That particular Friday night, Sheila was cruising in a Vitz, from Juja with her girls, the destination was one of those famous lounges. Since joining campus, she’s been living life to the fullest, leaving absolutely nothing to chance. She thrives in the starry lights, free booze and unnecessary compliments that throng her path wherever she steps.
This beautiful city, under the sun, is home to people from all walks of life. The who’s and who’s of Nairobi, artists, entertainers and now, an integral part of the Kenyan people; hustlers.
Sheila thought herself a hustler. She rented a two-bedroom apartment in Juja and furnished it quite quickly. She barely attended classes, except for the Film production class, because Dr Onyancha was somewhat interesting. Somehow, maybe because he enjoyed the series’ Power because pornography exhibited was coated with money, as he always said.
She was wearing an animal print silk dress, black strappy heels tied at her ankle and an orange baguette bag that dangled between her right arm. She looked stunning. Breathtaking even. I am not sure if she’d worn a corset but she always did to achieve the perfect hourglass figure, even though her body was already a piece of art. I envied her, especially the bold red lipstick she rocked that evening.
Her plans for the night were quite obvious; have a good time and bump into a rich man and fill her purse to the brim. It’s how she financed her lifestyle. She’d mastered the art of minting money from strangers at the club. I went out with her on a few nights. Men always ordered drinks for our table, offered to drive us home, and take us on road trips to Narok or the sandy coastal beaches of Mombasa. One night, someone grabbed me from behind and my feminist self exhausted all the pages about consent ever written.
“He’s loaded. Look at his car. Besides, he probably isn’t married. Two or three baby mama’s tops!”
Sheila scolded me all the way even though I paid for our cab ride back home. I was infuriated. Still am, hence why I was never making those little trips to clubs with her ever again. But we are still friends, on different paths. I prefer lingerie removed with grace, in the privacy of my bedsitter or an Air BnB. She really cares for the cash anyone is willing to splurge on her, man or woman. She’s down for whatever.
She left in the company of Bakhita and Anita. Her newly acquired puppets were hungry for Instagram likes, followers and photoshoots. They were skimpily dressed. You could almost guess that their purses were empty, expensive thrift bags that could barely hold wet wipes or a pack of pocket tissues.
In the wee hours of the morning, my phone was ringing nonstop. At first, I assumed it was the alarm. I finally woke up, because it was impossible to get back to sleep after the constant ringing. Sheila had been blowing up my phone for the past fifteen minutes. A rare occurrence when she went out because she spent the nights with men she met out here.
My eyes were heavy with sleep when I returned her call and her voice snapped me out of slumber. She was hysterical. She could barely construct a complete sentence. I only gathered Mirema Drive, Roysambu. I knew she was in danger. I asked her to share her live location as I rummaged through my wooden cloth stand to get some clothes. The feeble wooden stand she gifted me when I moved out.
It was around 4 AM when the Uber driver pulled up in front of the gate and blinked his hazard lights to alert me. He was a young stammering man, trying so hard to start a conversation but my impatient self must have communicated that I was not interested. We were almost run over by those huge Githurai Nicco buses when he made a sharp turn at the turnover near Thika Road Mall.
We stopped right in front of Khetias supermarket, and I was surprised to see Sheila, Bakhita and Anita lying on the floor of the supermarket at the exit point. I was hesitant to open the car door because I imagined them dead. Bakhita then turned in pain, and her thighs were out, paying homage to the Nairobi cold. The driver helped me drag them into the car as they cried, saying nothing, in particular, just crying.
Sheila was the first to wake up at around midday, with swollen eyes, bruised thighs and her dress torn. Her pretty magnificent dress was a total mess. I wanted to ask her for a refund for the cab money I spent, but her sorry state prompted me to ask what happened.
“I don’t think Anita will be okay, please wake her up first”. She stood up and walked toward the bathroom. I tapped Bakhita and Anita repeatedly until they woke up. They all had swollen eyes, seemed pretty exhausted and breathed like gazelles that had survived the grasp of a lion.
Anita burst into tears and said, “ They had guns. Many guns! They could have killed us”.
Who had guns? Where? And why? These questions ran through my mind, but I instead took Anita into my arms and comforted her.
Eventually, the story came out in bits and pieces. They bumped into a Nigerian guy at the club. He was as charming as West African men are and he was sipping on some liquor and eating some nyama choma. He had his eyes on Bakhita but expressed utmost joy when Anita and Sheila joined them at the table. Before midnight, he shared that he needed to retire early because he had an early morning flight to the UAE. He, however, said he’d love to keep the party going at his place and if they were up to it, he’d spend some cash on them for sex.
He was clear that he was mostly interested in Bakhita. If all of them cared to have fun, he wouldn’t mind.
“We didn’t think he’d harm us. We agreed because it was the three of us. If worse came to worst, we could fight him off. Besides, we thought it was too early to get back home”. Sheila sobbed. It was obviously her idea.
Upon arrival, he showed them around his apartment, took out a bottle of wine and some glasses and served them some. They sipped the wine all the way to his bedroom. He had nice curtains, a brightly lit room and a big bed that he joked could fit all four of them. He took off his blazer, watch, and neckpiece and opened the closet where there were guns.
“I couldn’t count all of them, but there were many. All shapes and sizes. We all froze and our tongues stopped moving. He then casually turned, looked at us smiling and said we shouldn’t worry”. Sheila said.
“I immediately said we needed to leave because it was getting late. Then he asked if the guns made us uncomfortable. I insisted on leaving and he calmly said that the door wasn’t locked, and we could see ourselves out,” She continued.
There were seven undressed men in the living room. Sheila was leading the way when she saw them, and ran back to the bedroom. They tried to probe their West African friend and plead with him to let them go.
“He said we are free to leave, only if we corporated,” Anita joined in. He was fully undressed at this point and was all over Bakhita.
These girls, still frightened, narrated this scandalous sex ordeal as they soaked themselves in tears. It’s almost like they were reliving this ordeal. They said that all the men insisted on having sex with them.
“They even told each other, you should try this one, she’s different. They’ve done the unthinkable to me, I don’t think I can survive it”, said Anita. They joked about how Kenyan girls are easy, provided their Naija accent was on point.
They didn’t use protection and called them all sorts of names during the endless three hours of torture. I persuaded them to go report the matter to a police station before they took a shower and washed off the evidence needed, after all, they knew where they lived.
None of them agreed to file a report because they were afraid of being shamed, judged and famed for the wrong reasons. While I respect their decisions, I can’t help but wonder about the number of girls these men have taken advantage of, molested and raped. But I did convince them to go to a hospital to get treatment and the antirape kit.
Certainly, not everything about Nairobi is sunny. Some dark unreported crimes happen so close to home, we just aren’t aware. I did convince them to go to the hospital to get post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV. PEP is a combination of three antiretroviral drugs that somebody takes soon after possible HIV exposure.
This story was inspired by a Twitter thread discussing the experiences of young Nairobi women with Nigerian men residing in Kenya.
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