It’s a beautiful country, full of happy people. They have finger-biting food and I move from one restaurant to the other hunting for some of the best traditional dishes and local delicatessen. Being an adventurous lad, the first thing I choose to embrace is the local culture. The language, food, how to conduct myself and get along with the local people, religion, popular places, entertainment activities, local transport, and other key must-know things.
I have an eye on what, to the open eye, seems to be small things; I am a good listener and like paying attention to unsaid words hidden in body expressions. So, with knowledge of very few words I can get an idea about what could be in the conversation. This is one of my strengths on my escapades.
Before I travelled, I had so much in anticipation. As usual, I took time to read about the city I was about to visit, local food, local languages, transport and other few things pertaining to the local culture.
One of the places rich in culture of any place are religious gathering places, restaurants, open market places and pubs. So, I took time before my trip, to learn more about all this and the routes around these places.
I am just an adventurous lad, remember, and my interest in local culture is nothing but just something I like doing out of personal interest. Maybe, I should call it a hobby.
I took up my flight at night and flew for a good chunk of hours. By the time I arrived at the hotel, it was already late. One evening of my adventure crushed. I could not temper with the day as it was fully reserved for my assignment.
Here came the evening of the second day, I was ready. I quickly swapped SIM cards on one of my gadgets with a local one and loaded it with data bundles to ensure my GPS and navigator were on. I planned my root and logged it in. Few dollars in my ‘Bombasa’, some amount of the local currency in different denominations in my front pocket, no wallet of course, and my passport nicely tacked in.
I jumped into a flexible denim, a dull coloured round neck t-shirt, a dark cap and I was ready to roll down the streets.
I had planned to test the local food the next evening. This one was set for night life experience. One would wonder. Back home, I do not club. But I am carried away by curiosity; my homies understand how eager I am to ford sand rivers for pebbles of diamond. I am out for the night.
Few minutes on the roadside, a motorbike came by. I quickly tuned my ascent and greeted the rider in a local language. Being convinced I am a local; the rider had no chance to ask more questions but quickly asked for my destination. “Where to, man?” He asked. Pub xxx, I responded, and we sped off.
It’s lit, lights flashing, the irresistible beats enticing patrons to shake their waists, and I knew it would be a great night. “A can of tonic water,” I signaled the bar tender as I placed a local currency note on the counter. “What whisky do you prefer?” He asked, as I interjected I needed tonic water only. The bar tender could not resist wonder wrinkles on his partly covered forehead sending me into defense mode to prepare the next response should he question further.
I went for an empty clear space, grabbed a chair, stretched myself and started throwing my eyes around making my plan. My idea was to ignite a conversation with a local. By the time I made my second sip, boom, I saw her heading to my space.
A curvy, blonde with steps like that of a model headed towards me, happily engulfed in the smoke of a cigarette between her fancy, glittering rings clad fingers. Immediately, an inner voice questioned whether I was at the right place or not. Then the adventurous persona awakens and whispered a go-get-it man kind of energiser.
As I wondered what language she would be comfortable with, I tossed my dice and went for my official language-English. My ascent swept her feet as she interjected with queries of my origin. After some bit of resistance, I thought of giving her a close but fictitious response. “I am from South Africa, you do not sound a xxxxxx, there is something about your ascent, which country do you come from?” I quickly dashed into the eighteen circle area of her thoughts.
“What are you going for?” I asked her, hoping to create a better rapport to help me learn from her. Holding her first glass, she sat firm, gave a charming smile and whispered, “You are so nice, and I have the best offer for you.” She is a woman seemingly in her mid 30s, well-built curvy blonde.
Just as my mind guesses, she was a commercial sex worker from a nearby country. “I have beautiful girls in my hotel room, aged 15, 16, 17 and more. You can choose the most fresh or go for the most skilled, the choice is yours. For 100 US Dollars, I will unwrap for you some sweet wine. I can get a young one of your choice and I so we can give you a mind-blowing threesome you will never forget,” she pitched in a whisper as she put the glass on the table hopping to close the sale.
At once, I felt shivers sent across my spine at her words. My mind tormented, I tried to pretend I needed to think about it, yet my heart was bleeding. My thirst to understand the whole circle of this business grew. I took a deep sigh, bent on the side and back again to refocus, and I had a couple of questions for her. I knew this was a dangerous mission I had embarked on, so quickly, I sent a text to the taxi I had saved indicating to him he needed to come over at xxxx in the next few minutes and pick me.
It is a country torn by war, leaving a huge population in abject poverty. Could the only sin girls have committed be being born in this country? No one has a choice either. After years of war, like in other war torn countries, young people strive to pursue other means of survival including migrating to other countries in search for greener pastures.
For girls, war and poverty put them on the slaughter table. They are vulnerable to different illicit businesses. They are defenseless; they are subjected to abuse of the worst kind. Hopeless and helpless their dignity robbed just so they can have a meal and cover their bodies. What a shame to this World, what a shame to this generation.
My guest on the table comes from this war torn country, in search of greener pastures, she set up a business to traffic young girls into a nearby country. Once these girls are successfully trafficked, they work as commercial sex workers. She books for them hotel rooms where clients are taken. She narrates that she has to get a good amount of pay from clients so that she can manage to buy food, good clothing and accommodation for these poor girls turned to objects.
I felt sorry for her, she was in an illicit business, the girls are being abused, but to all of them, this seemed like the easiest way out for them to survive. What a shame to this World. What a shame to this generation.
By the time I handed a 50 US Dollar to her, the taxi driver had texted. He was by the car park. So, I told her I needed to pick a call and attend to something that came up. I thanked her for being brave, wished the best for her and the girls, and gave her a 50 note for taking a lot her time.
She looked at me with sorrow in her eyes and wondered where this soul came from. She wondered too how she opened up what she had kept as a secret to her prospects and clients. I was up and on the go.
Human trafficking is real. It is happening every minute. The most vulnerable are girls and young women. The World seems to have closed its eyes. One would wonder if girls and young women especially those living in conflict zones are practically considered valuable.
Let us fight Human Trafficking.
Written by Simon Wandila