Inside Makindye’s bold, brooding brothel
In a country where drug-trafficking is illegal, you would not expect to find a shop advertising cocaine and marijuana or heroin. Similarly, in a city with some of Africa’s prominent cathedrals and mosques, a city where, moreover, prostitution is a police case, a signpost advertising girls of all shapes and sizes is eye-popping, as DIANA NABIRUMA recounts.
Daido Wander’s Inn is difficult to miss. Lying on Lukuli-Konge road in Mubarak zone in Makindye division, Daido wondrously comes at you even if you are innocently wandering through this Kampala suburb. Daido’s signpost, perched up high, announces excellent customer service, comfort and availability of ladies day and night. It features a half-naked woman, leaving little to any man’s imagination. It is June 2012 and I have come looking for this place I have heard many stories about. At the boda boda stage, where I ask for directions to Daido, I first get questions, and free advice.
“What do you want from that place?” one boda boda rider asks coyly.
“Girls,” I answer with a straight face, as if girls were tomatoes.
“Why don’t you wait for them there?” my ‘guide’ offers, pointing to a spot 100 metres away. “They are about to pass.”
“I want those from Daido,” I insist, and get my directions. At Daido, a small dark-skinned woman, dressed in a long skirt with a scarf on her head tells me she is in charge and takes me around. She shows me a filthy room, and throws in a possible clincher – that girls are available.
“Tulina abafumbo n’abalala,” she says. (We have married women and other types).
Married women, she clarifies, also engage in the sex trade. Some of the girls (actually they are women, but, perhaps for commercial reasons, they are called girls) reside here at the inn. These residents must be the ladies that are advertised on the signpost as available day and night.
The mama in charge here, talks quite freely about the prostitution business at the inn. In fact, when a colleague of mine, at 2pm, calls one of the numbers on the signpost and asks for “a bloody and bootylicious girl”, he is offered one for Shs 10,000.
Boda boda pimps
Leaving Daido, my boda boda friends look at me curiously, as if searching for signs of satisfaction on my face. I tell them that I have not liked the look of the place. One promises to get me better girls, and when I return the next day, he readily calls up a girl for me. He tells me that some boda boda men liaise with prostitutes because they meet so many ‘potential clients’. So they become some sort of pimps, linking prostitutes and potential clients.
Another boda boda rider tells of how some prostitutes offer them sex in exchange for free rides. “She might not have made money that night. Some have boyfriends but then they offer you sex in their house with the sleeping boyfriend!”
Some of these girls, he says, can come extremely cheap – even for your regular boda boda rider.
“You buy her a chapatti and bam, you have her,” a boda boda rider boasted.
There are two Daido Wander’s Inns in Makindye. Besides the above branch, the main one appears to be the one opposite the military police barracks, but they have the same lurid customer-care. Early this month, Daido was in the news when a young woman reportedly died in one of its rooms.
Before that, Dr Ian Clarke, the Makindye division mayor, and councillors in the area, had called for demolition of the building, citing its poor sanitation, non-compliance with standard building regulations and the fact that it was built in a road reserve. Demands for the inn’s demolition date as far back as 2003, and it is reported that another woman had died there last year.
But it would seem Daido has a cat’s proverbial nine lives. While similar outfits elsewhere are closed or lose business after such scandalous deaths, not so for Daido. Every time there is a death, business slackens but then it creeps up again like a bad rash. Indeed when I visit the main branch on July 9, it is clear the inn’s brokers expect it to survive this spate of misfortune. When I ask for a room, I am told I can’t get one because of the death.
“Try in two weeks,” a broker tells me. On learning that I am not a “girl”, however, he cautions me to not insist on the inn as I will be “disturbed” by the girls who do business there.
“Since you don’t want the room for business [prostitution], you should get one of the rooms behind the inn,” he tells me.
Why this otherwise illegal business survives and becomes bold enough to advertise is a puzzle. There have been suggestions that the owners are friends with people/clients in high places. Other people speak of bribery as an abetting factor. But one cannot discount the ‘professionalism’ of the inn’s managers and brokers.
The broker who asked me if I wanted to do “business” when I visited was very professional. He made me feel like prostitution was no different from selling roasted meat or fried fish. Welcoming a potential prostitute like that would certainly entice them to stay. The availability of customers both for Daido as a lodging place, and for commercial sex workers who use Daido to dispense their services, has also helped to keep the inn in business.
The inn is surrounded by approximately nine bars. One of the caretakers of the inn told me that “many drunken men” visit their inn – after having one beer too many and all the girls seem more beautiful than Miss Universe. And come to face it, Daido offers very cheap accommodation. For a night, you pay Shs 5,000, and boda boda riders here say the fee can be reduced to as little as Shs 2,000 per night for the prostitutes, who make approximately Shs 5,000 per transaction. I am also told Daido’s managers invest in good “security”. Apparently they hire strong boys to keep away suspicious characters – and hence keep the business thriving.
Editor’s note: Two weeks ago, Daido was finally shut down by the authorities, although its branch a few metres away, is still thriving.