It’s wet and raining hard as we maneuver through dark streets in a middle class neighborhood in the lake side city of Kisumu. There is a power blackout and with the heavy rain, perfect aura for having sex.
We drive slowly looking for a signpost for our rendezvous but the darkness doesn’t make it easy. After brief phone conversation with our host, we finally stop at a gate and my colleague and I are ushered into a huge bungalow. Music is blaring, guys dancing and the place is abuzz with activity. “Welcome to the Friday Jam at Kisumu Initiative for Positive Empowerment in short KIPE.”
We are ushered in by the centre’s project coordinator Mr. Mutisya. “Our days are themed and Friday is when we let loose, booze and just have fun,” he continues as he introduces us to different people. There are only two ladies present, the rest are young men. Condoms, sex lubrication sachets, dildos, sexual and rehabilitative health materials are lying all over as we are shown one room after another.
On the outside, KIPE is a youth focused organization supporting young people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. On the inside according to one of its members, “it’s a safe haven for Men who have sex with men to go share their experiences and encourage one another.” But, according to Mutisya, who also confesses he’s gay, it’s a place where “Homosexuals are emancipated from their community, the ones who practice commercial sex supported and male to male sexuality generally dignified.”
After sightseeing and witnessing carnival like dancing performances and learning that every gentleman at KIPE including the Security guard, we leave to come back the next day, Sex Saturday as they call it! Kisumu is a Macho city, situated more than 350 Kilometers from Nairobi on the shores of Lake Victoria, it’s an area known for braggers who wine and dine big or small time flossing about their property and women, how do gays fair against this population?
A waiter at a popular hotel claims that, “even to suggest Men having sex with men is suicide,” as he totally refutes that there are gays in the community. But Mutisya claims that tolerance levels of gays in Kisumu is incredible, “we even handed out roses on the streets to other men during Valentine.” A claim vehemently denied by Odhis, a public transport driver plying the neighborhood. “We would have drowned them in the lake if we saw them, he adds.”
”Sex Saturday is about the Commercial sex gays openly talking about their weekly tribulations and the others offer consul and comfort where needed. Emmanuel is broke and can barely feed himself. He had his first sexual encounter with another man around ten years ago while in College. The man whom he describes as being gentle on him paid him around 200 Euros after the session. “The man was married but the wife had left for the weekend, he told me also where gays hang out safely in town.”
His brother accidentally found out about his sexual preference and revealed to the family and he was immediately chased out of his home. Now, “I am broke and I have not had a single client the whole week.” He asks the other guys with more clients, to throw some his way.
Africans for decades been strongly opposed to even the thought of homosexuality. Men having sex with men have been called names, violently beaten and even murdered, while their families have been socially stigmatized. Lesbians have been raped by groups of men to “womanize them” and done all sorts of ills to straighten them up.
Africa is a masculine society with the Alpha Male African man priding himself with the ability to satisfy not even one but a couple of women hence polygamy is a norm. The African man prides himself as being at the apex of sex in all races and colors. The above coupled with “Cultures and traditions,” have made Africa a crucifying den for Homosexuals.
On the streets,Kenya has not been left behind in castigating Homosexuals especial Gays. But in an effort to please Aid bearing Western Countries the Government has not cracked down hard on them in comparison to other countries, like Uganda and Zimbabwe, and just recently Kenya’s president declared that:”Every village has a mad man who should be left to his elements,” in reference to Men who have sex with men.
One of the two ladies we found at KIPE is the Center’s counselor, Topister Auma. Her days are busy trying to advice and consul the gay community on different issues that they face. “In order for gays to be accepted, the society should acknowledge that men who have sex with men exist and the Western Countries should push gays to come out and then the government will come up with measures to protect them,” she says.
Adding that, “Europe has to push African Homosexuals hard from behind in order for them to be accepted and have equal rights as heterosexuals here inAfrica.”