The Kenyan blogosphere has just recently been graced by not your usual blogger and not your usual genre: a street prostitute's experience and opinions including how the blogger allegedly escaped arrest by the police. The Blog is Nairobi Nights written by a self confessed Kenyan Prostitute under the pen name “Suzy”.
I had the privilege of interviewing her online. In this interview she reveals more about her blog, some issues of concern to Kenyan prostitutes including security, legalization and what drives her to blog. here's her take on these issues :
This is how she describes herself:
My name is Sue. I practice along Koinange Street, Nairobi. These are thoughts, observations and experiences from my prostitution world. Nothing of the soft, sympathy seeking topsy turvy kind. But straight talk, hard facts and real anecdotes. They are worth something.
Koinange Street is a major red-light district in Nairobi, Kenya.
At the time of writing, she had published 12 episodes with titles such as “Of Coming Out Of The Closet”, “The Spiritual Role Of A Prostitute”, “When Sex Is No Longer Sin” and “Just Call Me Malaya [Malaya means a prostitute in Swahili]“.
1. For how long have you been blogging?
For about three weeks now
2. What is it that prompted you to come up with the blog “Nairobi Nights” and to document your experiences online?
I have been writing one or two things, some sort of diary about my work..But a close girlfriend of mine encouraged me to start a blog.
When i started writing my experiences and thoughts just started
flowing. And talking about my experiences and thoughts gives me some sort of relief.
3. I see in the blog you have hardly revealed any information about your identity and prefer going by the pseudo name/title “nairobi nights”. What has prompted this? Any particular reasons?
I am not sure how people would react if they knew I am a prostitute. I have family, parents, brothers and sisters. I fear they would get hurt.My parents if they got to know would feel I have let them down. I also don't see any benefit of giving my real identity.
4. When i first read you blog, my attention was captured by your use of words, composure and manner of writing. I am sure many readers of your blog and the general audience would like to know what led you specifically to the trade? Correct me if I am wrong, is it a social misconception that the well educated and/or enlightened would get involved with this type of trade?
Sure and I have written about what society expects a prostitute to be. To some extent it is true. But interaction with prostitutes is so business like and at times in not sober circumstances. This does not provide room for men to gauge the prostitute intellectually. Even the ‘not read’ prostitutes have their experiences and views, but don't necessarily get to talk about to them to clients or friends.
As to why I got into it, I would say its a little complicated but I am planning on writing about it soon. I have started writing about it, but after the first paragraph, I found myself not wishing to write about. My strength and will were gone. But I know very soon I will be over it and write.
5. Often when people leave prostitution they ascribe having been drawn into the trade due to financial difficulties, family problems, rape etc. Is this always the case in your opinion?
Not necessarily, there could be many other reasons. Some with nothing to do with poverty but circumstances which shape a person's character.
6. I have just read your latest post on legalization of prostitution in Kenya. Whats your take on this issue? Do you think that this may be possible in the present “conservative” Kenyan/African environment?
I think there are advantages and disadvantages of legalization. For instance, police and city council harassment would stop if it's legalized, but then there might be so many locational or client restrictions, which may affect things like our income. Same way with the new alcohol laws. Its possible for prostitution to be legalized, but not any time soon. After the passing of the alcohol bill, the country, right or wrong, seems to be moving towards some sort of ‘morality'. But it may change in the future.
8. Do you have a lobby group or support group that perhaps is assisting you in pushing forward this agenda?
Lobby group? No and I wouldn't want to be working for such. I speak for myself. If I work for a lobby group I would be speaking for all of us. I have no right to do so.
9. Do you think that prostitution has many inherent dangers as was exhibited in the latest case of the suspected Kenyan serial Killer Mr Philip Onyancha? What are the greatest dangers facing “street” prostitutes at the moment? [Phillip Onyancha is a Kenyan serial killer who is known to have killed people in his pass time]
The constant danger is you can never be sure what will happen when you go out with a man. Rape, death, drugs, non payment, lost of public respect. You can never know.
10. Do you believe that the present Kenyan laws accord prostitutes appropriate human rights, dignity and protection?
I cant exactly blame the law until prostitution is made legal. Maybe we could have some partial legalization. Maybe freedom to operate within certain areas at particular times, or something of the sort.
11. Back to your blog, what normally prompts your post?
I write what is inside me. An experience will come up and I will write about it..Some are more fresh or provoked by ‘last night’ happenings so I write about it.
12. Where do you see your blog at in the next few years to come?
I started the blog simply, with no really big ambitions. Some readers are encouraging me to be more serious about it but at the moment i have no major plans. I even don't know for how long I will write.
13. I had someone read your blog and they doubted that the blog is being written by a prostitute who plies the streets, if anything perhaps an upmarket call girl in some plush residential place in Nairobi: What is your response about your genuineness?
There is not much difference between the ‘upmarket’ prostitutes and some of us on the streets. I don't find it necessary or with an obligation to prove my genuineness to anyone at the moment. But time will answer the question about my genuineness, and very soon. When I sort out my conscience I will meet some of the readers who have asked to meet me.
14. I see you have advertisement on your blog, are there problems for you getting advertisers? I am assuming that some might not like to be associated with your content.
The one advertiser I have on the website approached me. I haven't gone out there seeking for ads. I am exactly sure whether I will do it and how advertisers would react. Its not a priority at the moment.
When people pay they will expect something from you, I will be under pressure to satisfy them and my thoughts wont flow as naturally as they do now. They might also be tilted towards making people happy. I did not want that at all. I want to get something out, not necessarily please or answer to someone.
15. You had a subscription model before on your blog, why did you change it?
When my girlfriend who encouraged me to start the blog read some of my pieces, she suggested I should make people subscribe, after a day or two, I felt its not exactly the thing I wanted. I want to write without any pressure.
Thank you Suzy for your opinion and perspectives revealed on this interview
You are welcome.