In Uganda when you ask about prostitutes, the first reference you will get will be about a certain street up town that is synonymous with these “ladies of the night” or Kabalagala, a ‘Red light” spot a bit out of the city when heading to the suburbs of Muyenga. Few Ugandans know about the existence of the “Men of the night” or maybe there are those who know but tend to bite their tongues or give a blind eye to it. Even though such activities are frowned at by Society, people tend to ignore them and not do anything about what they see or hear because “It’s none of their business.”
I recently decided I wanted to find out more about this night activity after getting bits of a conversation ”hush- hush” between two Kenyan male KIU (Kampala International University) students at a Mobile Money shop in Kabalagala. They were speaking in Kiswahili about the easy money one of them was making from the work he was doing for a certain group of white men who were in Uganda for a short while. As the conversation grew, I realized the work he meant was something different from what my mind had deduced from this it. On my way home, I ask the Bodaboda man (Motorcycle riders that are all over Kampala and can take you anywhere for a fee) if sometimes at night there are other prostitutes other than the female ones at De Posh (Bar and Club in Kabalagala), he said such men are there but because they don’t have operating spots like the women, it is hard to know who they are but once you went inside the bars a little earlier and sat there a while you can notice them.
The next evening when coming back home from town, I got out of the taxi and headed straight to one of the common bars there. I got very many weird stares from the older crowd which is always there before 10 o’clock, me being dressed like I just walked out of an office and being way younger than the present crowd in the bar. I bought my “Krest’ and sat looking through my phone while keeping a sharp eye out for anything that might interest me. This night turned out to be a waste, I headed home the moment I realized the “office crowd” was dwindling out.
The next Friday I went straight to Kabalagala but to one of the bars recommended to me by one of the bodaboda men. Two hours later a white man walks into the bar and beelines to ones of the tables that had a very handsome light skinned young man (that sadly I had been staring at to keep busy) and they talk for a while then leave the place. Later, another white man enters but sits at the bar and out of the blue a young good looking man walks and sits next to him, they talk for a while then leave together. I ask the cleaning guy in the bathrooms and he says he doesn’t know anything. I give him 5000/- and he says the men who take these young men are mostly white and others some rich Ugandans but it seems sometimes these young men give them numbers to call when needed and he says they never do it from one bar. They switch places just in case people get to know and beat them up.
Male prostitution is a very “Large business’ these days, this usually stems from university students who as the cleaning man said “will do anything to live the luxurious life.” Most of these students are recruited by other older students who have the things these young boys want. One might assume that it’s a common practice among university girls but it is the same among the boys too. The only difference is, among the males, they practice the utmost sense of secrecy because they know what they are doing will lead them into a lot more trouble than thr girls. The cleaning man said these young men usually first get very high(drunk or intoxicated) before leaving with the customers. They make a lot of money from their clients and usually help in recruiting others after they have bought cars and are dressing up in the newest fashion. In a country where homosexuality is an offence, it is amazing that few people haven’t been able to speak out about this activity and it being a hidden activity, there is a high chance that these young men go through a lot of torture and torment by the men they sleep with and the guilt they carry after, forgeting the diseases they are getting from exchanging their bodies for money.