Remote working is a luxury that I have been blessed to afford. It means that I can work from anywhere as long as my Asana is updated and I have access to the internet. It is with this mindset that I boarded the first flight from Nairobi at 6.30 a.m EAT on Thursday. I landed in Mombasa at 7.30 a.m and was sitting on my sister's bed responding to e-mails by 8.30 a.m.I had clocked in 30 minutes earlier all this in a new city. Remote working is the real deal don’t you think?
Mombasa ushered me with warm (literally) and open hands. It had been a month and some change since I had left and was I glad to be back. The city had not changed, from my favourite mhogo hawkers to the sun and the mighty ocean, everything was as I had left it solid and nice.
At the open Institute, we do have a rest policy which dictates a rest day on the second Friday of the month which would be the next day. I put down all my work tools as was required of me and I made my way to the beach for an afternoon stroll. With my madafu in one hand and sunnies in the other, I soaked up the salty air as my feet slowly and lovingly massaged the sand beneath me. I was in heaven and I made my friends droll over this with numerous selfies, especially because it was raining heavily in Nairobi.
The beach was littered with couples, I happened to have flown in on the valentine weekend so the mood was all rosy and cosy. I spotted a number of interracial couples lazily walking by the beach. This one in particular really had me in my feels, the guy who was a little bit older whispered into the lady's ear making her giggle before proceeding to plant a kiss on her right cheek. “Huh must be nice”, I whispered to myself.
I’d later share the story with my sister who’s been a coastal resident for the last 8 months. She laughed heartily before retorting “The only thing you are missing out on is abuse”. She explained that most if not all of the white men that come to the coast are here for a “good time”. They come in search of dark chocolate and some loving, while the woman is in search of money or a better life. With this exchange comes a lot of emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Most of the men are retired, or live on passive income and the East African coast is a favourable and cheap place for them to relax hence they flock in droves with some of them choosing to stay here for good. They mostly pick women with little or no financial background, one who is in need of financial aid, a helpless woman. These are their targets as it is easier to manipulate for they are vulnerable enough to stay.
According to my sister, the wazungus as they are commonly referred to have a taste, they easily pick from the crowd a perfect candidate. It is never a 50/50 relationship more of a master-servant relationship. The man who is of course the master in the relationship has the capacity to demand sex at any time and whether the lady is in the mood or not he will fulfil his desire. Most of them are rarely given money. One has access to their debit card hence can swipe all you want but as for your family members back at home, no breadcrumbs would fall to them from your “high table” as is their assumption. Let me tell you Halima’s story
Halima met Christian at the Whitesands hotel where she was a masseuse. He was an old retiree from Chicago who’s wish was to traverse the East African coast before finally settling in Mombasa. Christian became a regular customer who tipped heavily and Halima being with two kids enjoyed the tips and the little small talk they had. Within no time Christian made his move, Halima had to quit her job because of the HR rules that forbade dating a client. She was moved into a 4 bedroom maisonette in the affluent Nyali Estate and restaurant in her name was put up. She was set for life, or so she thought.
The first incident which transpired 6 months into their relationship was rater brutal but she brushed it away. Christian had found her speaking to a male friend and he’d insulted her insinuating that she was cheating. “Don’t try to be a whore with me” she was warned.” No wonder we colonised you stupid brutes”, she was insulted. She decided to let go, after all, her kids were not only attending international schools but had also gotten accustomed to living a life she could barely afford.
The insults and emotional abuse continued for a number of years but she did ride it all out, after all, her firstborn was clearing from school and with her salon business, she would be able to fund for the last born. It was one Sunday morning and she had just woken up when she had her son screaming, She quickly ran downstairs to find Christian on top of the boy hammering blows at him, the reason being he’d taken too long to respond when he'd call for him .“You stupid monkey how many times should I call you before you respond?’’ Christian bellowed at the boy. Halima ran to the kitchen and picked a knife. It was a do or die and were it not for the househelp, Christian would have been stabbed to death. This is one woman’s story among the many that exist on the Kenyan coast.
So the next time you see a white man on the beach don't be too quick to run by his side, for to them we are still the black monkeys they colonised.