The economic upturn Kribi has, and is continuously witnessing can be described as a mixture of blessings and bruises, to say the least. The infrastructural development has no doubt had a very positive impact not only on the Batangas (natives of the coastal town), but to other neighboring towns as well.
Be that as it may, these projects have also brought misfortune to the town with a massive inundation of foreign workers; most of whom are better paid and generally single; leading to the renaissance of depravity; pedophilia, prostitution and sex tourism amongst others.
The town also witnessed an influx of large numbers of girls from other regions of the country from 2001 to date. Most of the “business women,” we learnt, are commercial sex workers—call them prostitutes if you wish, offering sexual services to the work force of the giant projects and to tourists; nationals as well as aliens.
On a discovery mission to Kribi recently, this reporter got interested in the “prostitution business” that has widened recently in that sea side ambiance-full town, let’s go!!
“Carrifour Kingué,” the epicenter
|"Carrifour Kingué" at night|
I then settle outdoor, watching women roasting fish and ‘okadas’ zigzagging with chicks to and from nightclubs and hotels. Just in front of me is a troop of girls, most of them between 18-25 years old, dressed mostly in mini-skirts. As I approached them; “ma mami eeh,” each and everyone is asking me (in French), “on vas? on vas?”; meaning, should we go?, should we go?. And I was asking myself, go to where?
It took time for me to convince them of my mission. Realizing I am journalist, some simply said aah!, and left. I then began my conversation with Nina who told me prostitution is her only source of income. Unfortunately, Nina just got a client and ‘disappeared’ immediately.
“I am 23 and I live in a hostel,” Prisca, one of them said. She explained that she decided to leave their house because when she brought a man at home, her mother was forced to get up and open the door.
“And often, my lovers were making too much noise during sex. Now I work freely,” Prisca tells me as she whispers a potential client who was passing not too far away.
Prisca is happy to be financially autonomous, thanks to prostitution. “I can have 10,000 Frs per night after serving 5-7 men. One ‘coup’ at peak hours like before midnight is 2,000 and from about 2am, I can take 1,000 Frs.”
The behavior of most of the girls at the popular ‘prostitution spot’ leaves one with the impression that their hearts beat only to the rhythm of sex and nothing else, hmmm. But I am told only ‘cheap girls,’ are here. Lets then continue….
‘Débarcadeur’ for high class
Whereas with 2,000 Frs, you can satisfy your sexual desire at “Carrifour Kingué,” it is not the same scenario at ‘Débarcadeur;’ the beach. Girls here are ‘high class.’ No doubt, it is a place reserved for ‘high class’ men as well. Posh cars parked everywhere, low ‘old timers’ music playing, breeze from the ocean…..and I am told the cheapest roasted ‘bar frais’ (fresh bar fish) is 5,000 Frs.
After several attempts without any green light, I finally accost one of the ‘high class prostitutes’ who accepts to talk to me on grounds on anonymity. I will then refer to her here as Soulantine.
Soulantine said her prices vary from 10,000 to 20,000 Frs per ‘coup.’ And before she accompanies any client to the hotel, they must have sat at the beach for sometime (certainly eating and drinking). Our ‘high class’ prostitute however admits that sometimes they also have “bad market.”
“Such days we can be contented with roasted fish and some bottles of beer, anyone that offers, I can go with him even it means spending the night”
“Yaounde guys come here in big flashy cars, take you for a night and give you a visit card with a very big title. But when you call later, he will be answering around Fifinda [outskirts of the town], going back. When you just eve introduce yourself, he will just say, I am married ooh, and hang up the phone,” Soulantine said.
She explained that she has ‘connections’ with some hotel managers in town. When clients come and explain to the hotel managers, they can contact her depending on the terms.
Just one ‘coup’ is enough
While most girls in Kribi pursue prostitution as a source of income and livelihood, others simply indulge in the ‘trade’ for pleasure. Such is the case of Charlene who is about 22 years old.
With her well made hair and powdered face, she puts on her red gown and with a small hand bag. Then, she moves to the seashore (débarcadeur as the area is known in French) for ‘business.’ Yet, Charlene says she does it just for sexual pleasure as just “one coup” is enough for her per night.
And it is on that note that I returned to my hotel. I learnt the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the ambiance-full town is very high, though could not lay hands on any statistics at the time of this report.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi, just back from Kribi.