Growing up, I have always heard horror stories about prostitutes which I didn’t believe until I met one recently and the doubting Thomas in me was convinced. I was told by peers that prostitutes were very arrogant and shameless dangerous human beings. To confirm what I had been told, I decided to disguise myself as a client and visited prostitutes in some joints in Buea.
I am Njodzeka Danhatu, the undercover Investigative Journalist
It was a risky journey I was embarking on and anything could happen and my cover was blown. So I invited my colleague, Ben (not his real name) because of his personality.
Our journey started from Mile 17 Buea which is famous because of the motor park. It was on a beautiful Saturday that Ben and I drove to Muea – a once vibrant locality almost out skirting Buea but its vibrancy had been long shattered because of the war of separation rocking Cameroon’s English Speaking Regions.
Our target was a very popular drinking spot there. We had learnt whores used to operate around. We touch there at about 5:45 but the premises was locked, so we waited on top of some drinks at a nearby drinking spot till it was nightfall. We later checked but the place was still the way we saw it.
Ben has experience on how life in such areas functions so he made his findings from a passerby who said the place has been down for quite some time. I approached a hawker just in front of the building and he said the prostitutes had transferred the business to Douala – Cameroon’s economic city and that only one was operating inside at that moment.
“Yeah, too many gunshots in Muea could have been very detrimental to their operations” I guessed.
The place, my informant, added was waiting for another new operator to take over and bring it back to life. We enquired if there was anybody inside. We saw the lights on, but could not enter because we did not know if a whore was having a customer or not.
I did not tell you that while sipping and waiting for nightfall, Ben told me so many stories about prostitution and how it works. In his contextual analysis, he said some do engage in prostitution because boys may have broken their hearts and so they decided never to give their hearts to any boy again.
However, ScienceNordic revealed that despite the sexual drive, the main reason for prostitution in all groups is money. In a study it carried, sampling views of sex workers, it shows that “Money was cited by 85% of the prostitutes. Some have to pay for housing, food and daycare for their children, others must pay for their drug abuse, while others want an extra week’s holiday abroad.”
Though others like jamanetwork think that prostitution does at times result from trauma and other mental health problems.
As we deliberated in Muea on our plan of action, we realised it was already 8 pm. So we left for a nightclub in the famous Molyko.
Almost all kinds of things happen there. I once told a story of how a young beautiful damsel not wearing a bra made a taxi driver kept us inside traffic in Molyko.
Ben and I went to the location because we had also learnt prostitutes operate around the locality. He had been there once, I learnt.
They have a place that is different from the nightclub. So we first approach their fief for me to spy what I was about to get into.
All my life, I have seen prostitutes only on TV and on the internet. But that evening, what I saw got me to shiver. Even Ben could notice that I was scared. As we passed by the road, I saw them seated in chairs in the open with a 500 kilowatt bulb dimming upon them.
“You meant to tell me that those are prostitutes?” I asked Ben
“yes” was his reply.
I thought this was a business done in hiding and the dark. I saw women seated, dressed half-naked with exposed shinning labs. What I used to see on social media was there before my very eyes. After shivering for minutes, we made a U-turn for me to spy again. I still could not believe why young girls and even elderly women will be selling themselves like that.
Ben and I decided to calm down and plan our operation again. We settled at a bar beside where we ordered drinks again. I took something very hard that could give me the courage to approach a prostitute for the first time in my life. We requested that two young sex workers be called for us. As we were drinking they entered. I saw them coming and my heart started beating like that of jery being chased by tom. However, I decided to act like a big boy who wanted to chill with the big girls.
These two young women were about 23 and 24 of ages. They were nice-looking and experienced and not wearing any underwear. Don’t ask me how I figured it out since I have never met one before that moment.
They came in and pretended like they have not seen us. I wanted to let them know our position but Ben ask me to chill.
“They will come, relax,” he said. “They know what they are doing” he added.
I had spotted my prey since Ben gave me the option to choose first. After roving around the snack, they finally landed. I asked mine to come to me. I had cautioned Ben not to ask many questions because I did not want them to figure our motive.
“Hi” I greeted.
Mine responded the same saying that her name was Angel. Angel is properly a fake name. I had read somewhere that they don’t use their real names. Ben’s girl said she was Assurance. Ben decided to also lie that his name was Mike. Mine stepped outside to have a different look before resuming. Ben came closer and whispered to my ear that he has identified himself as Mike – that was a fake name also.
“How is the business?” Ben or Mike asked Assurance.
“We thank God. It is moving slowly” she explained.
I almost burst into laughter. Up till now, I don’t know whether she meant God with the big G or small g.
We ordered drinks for them as well. Angel came back looking different again. She had a well-shaped body, medium elevation and wearing a very sexy dress.
Before she left earlier, I heard them discussing how police and gendarmes used to come and arrest them for indecency sometimes, that is why she changed because what she wore before could barely cover her backside.
What apprehended my attention was what she said. She told us that President Paul Biya in his end of year speech, discouraged indecency asking security personnel to crack down on any, considering that Cameroon was hosting AFCON and many foreigners were already in the country.
I was amazed because I followed Mr Biya’s speech very well during his speech and never took note of that part.
“How does this business function” I enquired.
I had told her that my name was Ken though she went by Kennedy instead of Kennett, the full spelling of my Ken.
“Oga, If you want to do, as in f*ck, the prices are different,” Angel told.
“Could you please explain the modalities very well?” I asked while spying on how Ben was negotiating his.
Angel said a quickie (fast mode) was 3k, and that 30 minutes was 5 to 7k and seeing her entire body while doing it was around 10k. Romance before the actual match had a different price. She declined the aspect of giving head (s*cking the d*ck). She also added that dogy was around 11k. The full night she said was in between 30k to 45k if I remembered very well. Everything now is expensive in Buea. From foodstuffs to drinks and now sex.
I could understand. The prices she gave me was because she never believed I am a Cameroonian. According to her, I was from North America precisely Canada. I swallowed her guess but at that moment, I could not contain the laughter in me. I burst it out. Ben tried to further negotiate the prices down, but I told him that we should take the 3k offer since it was our first time. According to Ben, 3k was too much for a 5 minutes sex.
They took us to the respective rooms.
I was so scared but acted like a big boy. I have covered terrible events and even ones that the military and Amba are shooting live. But what I was about to witness that night seemed like a suicide mission to me. If she had read my mood very well, she would have noticed it.
But before we could enter the hostel which Ben told me had been colonised by prostitution and situate her room, I saw her colleagues seated on chairs waiting for customers. I saw young girls and even old ones waiting for any random person to come and pay money and have sex with them. They are there, some smocking with their eyes fixed on the gate to scarves for customers who approach. the location of this hostel is in one of the students’ residential areas. Some of them I was told are students and because of the competitive high life style and also hardship have found themselves into prostitution.
When I entered Angel’s room, I knew my investigation was incomplete until I was out safe and sound. There was no light, from the flash touch on her phone, I saw a wooden bed where I lay. I pretended that I did not know what to do because my ignorance was helping me to buy more time. She told me that she was paying for the rooms and I understood while she exaggerated the prices. I had earlier made enquiries and I was told that the normal price was 2k.
However, we spoke and laughed until the moment I asked about the protective measures. The main reason I embarked on this journey was to know how sex workers were coping amidst the covid-19 pandemic.
“Protection for this Cameroon?” she said. “Oga, na God di protect we oh”. I jumped out of the bed with a curious look.
“Relax,” she said.
There was no face mask, no hand sanitiser, nothing related to prevention apart from the condom I saw.
And to further know if actually, she was arrogant. I asked her to be un top. She cursed and insulted me that my money was not up to that kind of service.
The arrogance and also the insult proves my point. She never knew I was pretending all along.
However, Our investigation coffers were running almost dry. I added another amount that could buy me much time to observe and ask questions.
The things she said hmmm, is a story for another day.
Because of the heat, I left the place sweating like I was fighting wrestling despite only asking a few questions trying to clarify my doubts.
I later met Ben seated outside the premises. On my way out, I saw Assurance already packaged, waiting for another customer to come her way. I shouted, “oh my God”. Whores really don’t care. It is just business as usual. I asked Ben how long he has been waiting for me. He said approximately 30 minutes before I realised how my useless discussion with Angel was killing time. He said Assurance was also very arrogant. I did not bother asking whether he did it or not. I just thanked God that we came out alive.
Sex workers operate in secrecy so that their family members can’t know. When I asked Angel where she was from, all she said was that she did not know which was a lie, I supposed. She never believed that I also live in Buea – Canada Boy.
Ben told me that in Buea, that prostitution is not only seating and scrambling for customers. According to him, any girl with more than five boyfriends is also a prostitute.
Cameroon Tribune on May 9, 2019, reported that the business has been taken to the social network where young boys and girls now trade sex like any other commodity. That is, the customer sends money and receives nude videos or pictures. Some do it via live video call until the buyer is satisfied.