Monday, January 3, 2011

Night Life and Prostitution in Lusaka II

Night revelers take to the stage at a night club in Lusaka

Because of the overwhelming email responses I got from the earlier published article on called “Zambia: Night Life and Prostitution in Lusaka” I feel obliged to give the readers just one story from the book in progress. Instead of sending numerous emails, let me publish an excerpt, from the book, so that other readers can benefit as well. The stories are fascinating, frightening and sometimes funny. Here is one of the thirty stories you will find in “Judge Me Not” (proposed name).

First time I met Cindy (not her real name) was in the Northmead area. We had a short conversation after I declined her request to buy her a drink. My usual reply to the girls when they ask me to buy them a drink is, “Why should I buy you a drink?” This unexpected response usually surprises them. Some will respond by saying, “You don’t buy drinks to girls who ask you?” This then leads to a conversation and before you know it we are talking about many other things. But no drinks.

Cindy and I had chatted briefly that night. Couple of years later, I met her at the Makeni Casino. Something seemed very different about her. She immediately recognized me but was too busy to talk to me since she was with the company of some Asian men. I looked for an opportunity to talk to her. When that opportunity came I talked to her. She joked with me about having given me a chance the last time we met. I talked to her about my mission and that I will tell her story without ever using her real name. She reluctantly agreed and we arranged to meet a week later.

Cindy lives in the upper middle class neighborhood of Ibex Hill on the East Side of Lusaka. She moved in with her grandparents after she completed school a couple of years earlier. Although she never seemed to have invested much time in job searching she blames the “Zambian System” for failing to provide jobs for people like her. Cindy speaks very good English and has very good high school grades.

It all started one night when Cindy and her cousin stayed out late at a drinking place. They were just enjoying a game of the English Premier League Football. She is a big fun of Manchester United. That night a man offered them to buy some beer. They accepted. She loved the attention she got from this man and the other men in the nightclub. This particular man was ready to spend that day. She had never had a man spend so much on her. It downed on her that nigh that, as a girl, she possessed certain powers that she could use to manipulate men.

The man took them home that night after exchanging numbers. Later in the week she met up with him and things escalated from there onwards. The man gave her money and other things she badly needed. He often took her out on weekends to nightclubs and afterwards would spend the night with him at a guesthouse. She never bothered to ask if this man was married or not. According to her she didn’t want to know besides she didn’t want to spoil the relationship with him.

Though they had sort of developed a relationship with this man she confesses that it was not serious. She was not in love with him. She liked that he gave her the opportunity to have certain things and go places around town. It was during these night adventures that other men gave her a lot of attention. She gave her phone number to some and would then link up with them during the week and on weekends. Suddenly, she had a busy schedule meeting all kinds of men who mostly wanted to sleep with her.

She recalls that her life turned around the night she asked the man how much money he was going to give her if she slept with him. The money had offered about $50. She could not believe the offer. She thought she can do it just this once and no one would ever know. She did it and it became a habit thereafter.

Soon she started getting offers from other men. The money was so good that she decided to be proactive. This is when she started hanging out at Alpha Bar in Northmead. Here she met all kinds of people. It was here that she was introduced to white men who were frequent patrons of the bar. The white men paid better.

The day I met her was one of her first visits at Alpha Bar. She is a skinny girl, tall and a fair dark and smooth complexion. She has thick black hair she likes to tie in a ponytail like. When she walks, her steps are deliberate like she is on a catwalk. She knows she is beautiful and loves to be watched by all the admiring eyes in the nightclub.

Cindy has gone out with all kinds of men from all corners of the globe. She has gone out with men who are older than her grandpa. She is quick to point out that these men are good men and treat her well. That is why she likes the white men especially.

When I pointed to her why she had graduated from the white men to the Asian men that day at the casino, she responded, “to me they are the same.” However, she liked the Chinese men because they loved the casinos and was learning a lot of card games and using the slot machines.

The story of Cindy is not an uncommon one. Both her parents are alive and well. Both sets of her grandparents are alive and well. “What happened then, one may ask?” Could it be that the parents and grandparents took things for granted? Is it the rebellious spirit of humans? Is it the lack of career guidance? Is it that we place so much emphasis on exams and not skills development? Is it the “System”? Many questions come to mind as I recount the story of Cindy…

Before the book comes to print, I need to identify a publisher. Ideas are welcome. In addition, I would welcome readers who want to help as advisors and be part of the editorial team. Please send me an email and we can discuss the details. Thanks to those of you who contacted me directly. I really appreciate your comments and support. Keep them coming.

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