How politicians pay Sh50,000 for male hookers

"Some of our customers are high-ranking government officials, senior politicians and even religious leaders"

Steve Kamangu was walking along Digo Road in Mombasa town around 11pm two weeks ago when he was stopped by a light-skinned woman across the road dressed in a buibui.

Out of curiosity, he stopped and the woman crossed the road to join him.

A few seconds later Kamangu was reeling in shock.  The ‘woman’ turned out to be a male sex worker who had spotted a potential client.

“What immediately hit me was the face. It was clear that beards had only been freshly shaven,” recalls Steve, adding that the protruding Adam’s apple and guttural voice “totally shocked me and I had nothing to say even after he plainly told me what he wanted and how much it would cost. I was almost hit by an oncoming vehicle as I hurriedly crossed the road to board a matatu home.”

What Kamangu encountered is not new for those who leave Mombasa Central Business District in late at night, when bold gay men openly solicit sex for money just like their female colleagues.

Forget the anti-gay rhetoric being spewed by religious and community leaders in Mombasa.

Their numbers are growing as a recent tour of the CBD at night revealed.

Skimpily dressed men in female garments, red lipstick and all made up parade the streets of the coastal town.

One of them, Husna (who later revealed that his real name is Omar) told The Nairobian he has been soliciting sex from fellow men for the last three years after being forced to the streets by the harsh economic times.

“I have been gay since I was in high school,” says Husna, who graduated from a fashion and design college, but failed to get a job. He says men started hitting on him in pubs because of his feminine looks.

He eventually got “one partner but he was jobless too. I decided to capitalise on this demand and soon, I was having multiple partners who also helped with finances.”

Husna says it only took him a few months to hook up with fellow male sex workers who assume female names and don women outfits. When business in bars was slow, the streets came in handy.

“Sometimes my colleagues and I can sleep with up to 10 men in one night and unlike our female counterparts, we always show up on the streets because we are not troubled by menses. Our charges are also higher than what the women charge,” he told The Nairobian, but complained that they are always harassed by police, who besides asking for bribe also demand sex from them at times.

“There are many police officers out there who are gay and solicit sex from us and we know them. We cooperate with them since we do not want to be driven out of the streets.”

Police sources in Mombasa refused to be drawn into this topic, saying those who have been sexually assaulted should have reported such cases. But there are those who can’t report the cases because it would implicate government officials.

One of Husnan’s colleague charged that, “Some of our customers are high-ranking government officials, senior politicians and even religious leaders. Kenyans should drop this hypocrisy and legalise both prostitution and homosexuality.”

Husna confided that, “Some of the top politicians and public figures readily part with up to Sh50,000 for a session lasting less than three hours. They however ask us to be discreet and since we want them to come back again, we comply.”

Homosexuality has been rampant at the coast since precolonial times, says Amir Mohamed, a local poet and historian.

He explains that during the colonial period, in Lamu, a Swahili town north of Mombasa, boys dressed like women, performed striptease and then paired off with older men in the audience.