Landlords in Nairobi’s Eastlands are threatening to smoke out single women from their apartments, claiming that their houses have been turned into sex dens.
The landlords who do not want to go public for fear of losing other tenants, have now resorted to vetting potential tenants and turning away single women from their houses.
“We have instructed our agents and caretakers to ensure that female tenants provide proof of marriage or that they have serious boyfriends before they are allowed to live in our apartments,” said one of the landlords.
The ‘ban’ comes in the wake of a new type of prostitution sweeping across city estates, where commercial sex workers service their customers at home and not along the streets of Nairobi or parking lots as was the norm.
“Sex business spoils the name of a building and we cannot entertain it here. Women living alone or in twos in one room are not allowed here, said Sammy Mogwasi, a caretaker at Pipeline estate.
Even though some landlords have succeeded, most of have been outwitted by shrewd women who cheat their way out of the vetting process by bringing male companions to pose as husbands during their house-hunting missions.
“We know that they say women who live alone are troublesome. So, to avoid problems, just get a man to accompany you when looking for a house,” said Jane Muthoka, a resident of Umoja estate.
Business is so good that many women now rent houses to sustain the growing list of clients.
Speaking to The Nairobian on phone, Daisy Kwamboka who has a ‘business premise’ in Umoja, describes ‘house prostitution’ as a safe way to operate in a city full of cartels and middlemen.
“A friend of mine who lives in Mlolongo advised me to get a house to service my clients. It was the best advice ever,” she said.
Kwamboka says the new arrangement guarantees her security and extra income from bed, security, bathing and food in the event of a sleepover.
“Actually, most men prefer the house arrangement to the street or pub parking lots, where women parade their butts in the cold,” she told The Nairobian.
On whether she has clashed with the landlord or caretaker, she said she respects her business and always leaves no trail.
“When my guest is around, I always play it cool and everything is within the four walls: no noise, nothing, it is just business,” she says.
Just like Kwamboka, Embakasi-based, Gladys Kariuki says the arrangement is ideal, private and does not attract stigma.
She says that unlike going to pubs or in town to line up along the streets for customers, deals are sealed over the phone or on dating sites in the comfort of their homes.
“You don’t have to worry about your reputation because in your house, there is privacy. You also save yourself the hassle of pimping yourself, and you don’t have to spend money in fare looking for customers. Instead you eat, clean yourself and wait for money to walk through the door,” Gladys said.
The mother of one said she has been in the business for over two years. She has also introduced some of her friends into the business and they are now making money as they go to school.
“They are still in college and this kind of arrangement suits them better,” she said.
Kwamboka who makes at least Sh5,000 a night on weekdays and more during weekends, said her clientele are mostly soccer players, musicians, businessmen and foreigners in the country.
“I love Nigerians because they don’t haggle over the price. They will even give you Sh10,000 or more,” she said.
Beneficiaries of this trade, like Godson Uche from Huruma, has nothing but praise for the arrangement.
“At first, the deal was for one night, but we later extended it to a week and it was just too much fun,” he said, praising his hostess for the treat.
Ken Muasya however has a different opinion. He feels the arrangement is risky if a woman has more than one lover and all of them contribute towards payment of her house rent.
“Other rent payers could visit the house and find a stranger and this could lead to deadly confrontation,” he said.
But Gladys says they don’t need ‘sponsors’ to pay their rent since they make enough from the business.
“There is no need of renting a house if you cannot sustain it for the business. That would mean you are making losses and should quit,” she said, adding that the most ideal house is a bedsitter.
Customers like Meshack Oyugi who was used to quickies on the streets are however complaining that all the beautiful women have quit the streets.
“I have been wondering what happened to the curvy women. They are no longer there. What we now have are old, potbellied women,” he lamented.
He claimed the arrangement if not tamed, could destroy marriages.
Sociologist Dr Ken Ouko of University of Nairobi believes that if a woman invites a strange man to her house, she wants to be in an environment where she is in charge and feels safe.
Ouka adds that sex makes women emotionally connected to a man.
“So many women who are in the sex business try to bury that part of them that wants sex for intimacy, and focus on sex for monetary benefit,” he said.
“You can’t even hold the hand of a strange woman in the streets because she has no connection to you, so she will feel repulsed. The moment they see sex as simply a way to earn a living, they have already crossed the threshold and there is nothing more vital apart from death that they will care about.”
Ouko added that it is easier for a woman to invite a strange man into her house. But it’s also worth noting that the same women are very well protected.
“She could have self defence mechanism in the house,” Ouko said.
Sandgate, three kilometres East of Torrington, in the beautiful wooded countryside with spectacular views of South Downs in England was where the future President of Kenya went to escape the vagaries of World War II.
The bracken and silver birches punctuating woods and farmlands made Jomo Kenyatta feel like he was in rural Ichaweri. No wonder he kept kienyeji chicken and cultivated vegetables and tomatoes.
Kenyatta worked part time at the tomato hothouse section of garden marketers, AG Linfield & Sons, in between giving lectures at the Workers Education Centre, where he met Edna Grace Clarke, a teacher.
Edna had taken to liking the man who easily found four-pound (Sh20) a day jobs in West Sussex, due to labour shortage occasioned by the war, and gave lectures - on colonial themes - to soldiers under the Forces Educational Scheme.
So, when her parents were killed in an air raid, Kenyatta’s sympathies and shoulder to cry on had Edna completely bowled over in 1942, before Jomo shortly put her in the family way.
The pair’s marriage at the Chanctonbury Registry Office in Sussex meant the future president was guilty of bigamy, since he was already married to Grace Wahu in a traditional ceremony, and later Mama Ngina.
Peter Magana was born and the 71-year-old long time executive at the BBC was their only child from their four-year marriage.
Kenyatta left his young family a year after World War II ended in 1945. He however constantly wrote letters to his old roommate, Dinah Stock (who had encouraged him to take refuge in Sandgate until the war ended). In fact, it was Dinah who suggested that the royalties from Facing Mount Kenya be used for Magana’s education.
By then, the book had sold over 9,000 copies. In response, Kenyatta wrote to Dinah and said, “I entirely agree with you that the money should be used to help Magana with his education. I will certainly make the necessary arrangements with the people concerned.”
Jeremy Murray-Brown, Kenyatta’s biographer, writes that although Dinah delivered the letter to Edna, she never got any dough.
But Kenyatta kept in touch with Edna through letters and one in 1957 had him writing back, “the news from you gave me great comfort and consolation to my soul.”
Edna Clarke died in 1995 aged 86.