Monday, 5 March 2012

Bad Black’s saga unmasks sex tourism in Uganda

At any given time, there is always a little secret dying to burst and spill its froth into the open. And out on the many hills of Kampala’s entertainment district, is a subtle industry that quietly brews with activity as much as it does with dollars and all manner of foreign currency. It is sex tourism.

And in the now all-too-famous case of a 22-year-old young woman popularly known as “Bad Black” and her British lover, the workings of Uganda’s sex tourism are completely laid bare, offering an opening into the nature of people that are involved, how and why it thrives.

The 2010 night when Shanita Namuyimbwa, also known as Bad Black, met David Greenhlagh at Rock Gardens bar on Speke Road, an area crawling with tribes of prostitutes, should forever remain boldly imprinted in her memory, as probably the night when she finally hit it big.

You have a young semi-literate albeit street-wise girl, who runs into a millionaire Briton, and from then, proceeds to make as much hay as she can while the sun still shines. It is an archetypal story of how this industry works.

David Greenhlagh will easily fall into the category of Uganda’s expatriate class, a bunch of foreigners who come to Uganda, sent on either official errands, or pursuing personal business interests, stealing away a little time for sexual pleasure in the process. And there are many of that kind. An internet sex tourism site maintained by updates of many a globe trotting expatriates, reveals how they share tips amongst each other on how to get sex quicker, and cheaper, in whichever city one may be headed to Speke Road is the market where most of this industry’s action happens in Uganda. It has a prime location, right in the middle of high-end hotels, Grand Imperial, Speke Hotel and Sheraton Hotel-Kampala, where many expatriates spend their time while in Uganda. Kabalagala makes up for a lot of the rest.

World of surprises

The perception from most such tourists is that they do not think highly of the girls at the red-light districts. Comments made on the forum suggest that Ugandan pick-up girls are perceived as base, simpletons who can easily be manipulated into sex, at times even without any material inducements. “Promise her a visa to your own home country and she will give you a treat for all the time you are in town,” one commented. Another said, “Some of them just want to get the feeling inside the lavish hotel you will be staying in.”

Mr Greenhlagh told court recently that he came to Uganda to do business and make investments. He is a 53-year-old graduate of Electrical Engineering and Marketing, who by the sum of his wealth and assets would give the impression that he is an intelligent fellow who would not have made it to where he is if he were otherwise. It is thus surprising that he would find it fit to have unprotected sex with a stranger who he had met only a few hours earlier

What’s more, it should be surprising that he would deem it fit to pay Namuyimbwa $1m (about Shs2.3b), simply because he had anal sex with her. And that was not all. He set up a business in Uganda, pumped $3.7m (about Shs8.5b) into it, and then made the 19-year-old girl he had just met in a bar, a 25-per-cent shareholder and lone signatory to its bank accounts.
This was all for a girl whose education he found suspect and whose written English he described as “poor”, in a country where the ability to speak and write English is the foremost test of literacy.

But there is more to Greenhlagh the man. They are revelations into struggles that befall many of his kind, and which, may better explain why he acted the way he did. The Briton has been married to his wife for 25 years and she has bore him three children. He is still married. However, therein could be part of the problem. “I had not been having sex for several years (when I met Namuyimbwa),” he told court. And when asked whether he was sexually starved by the time, he replied to the affirmative, a confession that he was not a happily married man. In fact, he told court that he lived as “husband and wife” with Namuyimbwa after they met.

It is alleged that many of the sex tourists who micro-blog about their escapades are indeed married men who leave their wives behind for sex outside marriage. Comments about their wives do not paint a rosy picture of the marriages. “Will have to keep this away from my wife, who does not match anything here,” commented one, of a Ugandan girl he had picked at a bar. This could explain why a rich British man would spend eight hours in the air, flying to a third world country where he would then settle with a young woman who does not fit his social, academic or economic class, and then lavish her with all the money she desires. It’s thus no surprise that even as Namuyimbwa was under state prosecution, Greenhlagh showed up at a courtroom in a Jeep Cherokee, with another lewd mistress by his side.

More drama

Shanita Namuyimbwa, and the entire collection of the company she keeps, strikes you as a rogue vulgar bunch. A mini slum-setting co-wife-fight took centre stage at of all places, the courtroom, when Namuyimbwa ran into Janet Apuyo, the new girl Greenhlagh is seeing. The two exchanged insults, taking cheap shots at each other’s beauty and social class in an act that demeaned the court’s ground where they stood. Namuyimbwa’s entourage also includes a heavily built woman, only identified as Nanziri, who upon arriving at the courtroom, proceeds to sprinkle a mixture of herbs around the courtroom, an act that is allegedly hoped to charm the judge so she delivers a favourable judgement for her mates Namuyibwa’s rise to fame has been fast, and her climb down, maybe equally fast, if not faster. She is definitely enjoying her moment of fame. She straddles around the court’s premises in a catwalk, even though she is visibly pregnant. She turns around and smiles for the camera while at times, rudely turning down attempts for an interview. She at times comes to court in the company of equally party-dressed girls.

Her naiveté, inexperience, lack of exposure and desire for fame could explain why upon landing big money, she chose to throw it in the faces of party revellers in nightclubs and at entertainment pundits.
She was withdrawing amounts to the tune of Shs100m and more in 48-hour intervals from her bank account. Some of that money found itself on Meddie Sentongo’s bank accounts. Sentongo is Namuyimbwa’s new lover and is accused of defrauding Mr Greenhlagh’s Daveshan Development Company Ltd (which was meant to develop real estate) together with Namuyimbwa.

Sentongo too has been a staple on entertainment newspaper pages, portrayed as a rich young man who owns fancy luxury cars, who even has the pockets to donate cars to both musicians and cash to the ruling political party. Now however, he and Namuyimbwa are answering corruption charges in court, and face possible jail time.

And it has all happened before; a rich white man meets a comparably poor Ugandan girl – love blossoms – a business is born out of the relationship for the girl (may be a bar, saloon, publication) – trouble hits the relationship – girl turns back to Ugandan men on whom she lavishes money.

When the sun finally sets on the phenomenon that has been Bad Black, it will draw a curtain on a chapter of the real-life drama of Uganda’s sex tourism, and it will leave us with a face to act as its poster child


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  2. Wow Really Nice Stuff About The sex tourism in Uganda. I like it. I hope you will continue with the same.

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