By Our Reporter
Like nocturnal creatures, they hang out in small groups outside braving the cold night on paths and corridors in the Milango Saba area of Namanga Township.
This is a popular place for truck and matatu drivers especially after 10 pm when prostitutes jam the area aggressively hustling for men.
“The majority of our clients are married men, most of them drivers who come here frequently when taking goods to Nairobi or Dar es Salaam, Matatu drivers and local traders especially Maasai men,” says Zainabu Mrisho.
The women, most of them Tanzanians either live in lodgings at bars or in nearby cheap rental houses but only venture outside after 10pm when shopkeepers close and switch of lights.
The name Milango Saba (seven doors) refers to the seven entry spaces on small walls that people use when accessing the buildings from the no man’s land area .
In the area buildings, including the grey stone-build ageing bar has been used since the 1960’s when the bar and shops at the complex were constructed, making them some of the oldest and historical premises at the border town.
Accompanied by my guide, we arrived at one of the bars early on a Friday evening, a day when many Kenyan revelers flock the area to unwind after a week- long’s hard work and also to sample the forbidden fruit.
It is about 8.30 pm and a few women sitting in groups at corner tables are quietly chatting in low tones as Bongo and Sauti Soul music blares from the old speakers hanging on the pale cream painted walls.
Amina, a busty waiter saunters to our table where she tells me a Pilsner larger beer will cost me Sh75 and a Serengeti for my friend Sh100 in Kenya currency.
“Beers here are cheaper than in Kenya where a Pilsner costs Sh190, “ my friend tells me as we settle down waiting to witness what can only be described as the Koinange Street experience of Namanga.
The bar is divided into three sections, the untidy dining section as you enter, then the main bar and the lodgings and a resting area at the back where a TV is also installed with five plastic seats and two plastic tables.
At about 9.30 pm, six women move to the dining area and take position near the door, signaling to men passing outside and urging them to enter, the bar, making it appear as if they are bar employees calling customers.
Thirty minutes later, they move outside where scores more converge to engage in a fierce competition for men, charging at every man to express their interests and the services they offer.
“Karibu, niko tayari kwako.Njoo ndani Kwangu elfu kumi (Welcome, I’m ready for you at TZ Sh10, 000 or Sh500 in Kenya currency,” says Sophia, ushering a man to the bar.
Next to them, two women arguing over a man they claim to have met last week almost come to blows, as the bemused client walks away, leaving them exchanging expletives and unprintable abusive words, an art mastered by many Tanzanians at the border.
After watching the women peddling flesh for about 30 minutes, pretending that we were serious clients only discouraged by their high asking prices, we retreated back to Kenya.
At about 10am the following day, I went back to the bar, where I found that activity was now mainly confined to the two tables at the back where tired looking women and men were having beer.
A quick look around, reveals that there are 11 rooms there, all numbered and one with words “Mapokezi” Kiswahili word meaning the reception office.
Broken windows on some of the rooms, the dirty curtains that can be seen hanging loosely, the hanging wires next to the TV at the reception area and the broken ceiling best explains the state of affairs at the bar.
As I sat there for about one hour, four men left the rooms while three women walked in with men and locked themselves in the rooms.
A loud woman engages in argument with a Maasai man taking a bottle of Kilimajaro beer over why their men don’t like using condoms.
“We trust our miti shamba which is good enough to treat any diseases and that is why a Maasaiman does not like condoms,” he says to the amusement of the woman and others at the sitting.
As the prostitutes quietly conduct their business at the back, sales at the main bar continue booming because doors here are always open from 1st January to 31st December.
“Hii bar haijawahifungwa hata dakika moja. Ni wafanyakazi tu ndio wanabadilisha shift (The never closes even for one minute. It only staff who change shifts),” said Halima, a bar attendant.