By Kizito Duru.
Last week Sunday, a friend and a jolly good fellow ‘dragged’ me to a night club, located along World Bank road, Owerri. I had gone clubbing twice before yesterday and enjoyed the fun that went with it. But yesterday, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to drink nor to dance but I am never a show spoiler, so I reluctantly succumbed to the request of my dear friend. First, we drove to another friend’s house, whose love for clubbing knows no bound, on reaching his house around 8pm and informed him of our destination, he jumped excitedly up like someone that won a bet. He asked us if we needed NETWORK, I didn’t understand that slang, I quizzed him for explanation and he said that what he meant was if we needed girls to rock the party with. I laughed. Men will always be men. I told him that the arrangement for the party was impromptu and we wanted to keep it simple. He told me to relax that he would ‘arrange’ girls for us. Before we could object, he picked his phone and called a number, a girl answered and he told the girl to come with two of her friends. Within an hour, three girls walked inside his living room. I was baffled, doesn’t it mean that those ladies were patiently waiting and possibly praying to God to have clients for the night? Not the son of Duru, I vowed. I accessed them by keen observation and discovered they were undergraduates. There and then, the journalistic instinct led me to start interviewing one of them who had already picked a devilish interest in me. I was determined to know what happens in Owerri at night as I am not one who enjoys night outings.
To cut the long story short, we left the house and went to De Angels Restaurant and Bar, located around the notorious 40:40 Junction, to have our dinner before heading to the club. While we were eating, I excused myself and decided to look and walk around. I walked towards Mimi Place. It was along that road that I saw ladies of different sizes, heights, ages, complexion, on skimpy clothes, smoking and desperately waiting for a client. Who are the clients? What services do they render? There and then, I remembered an article my friend, Umahi Henry of Sun newspapers, wrote about night life in Owerri. I couldn’t help but completely agree with him
Like he rightly observed, in Owerri, the capital of Imo State, it seems that prostitution has become serious business and those who are into the trade leave nothing to chance. They do everything possible to make a catch every night. Even when it is raining, commercial sex workers in Owerri go to their duty posts with umbrellas. They even pray for customers to come their way.
In Owerri, every evening, the scarlet ladies converge on the streets, and like vultures they wait for men who need their service. They are mostly found at New Owerri and World Bank area, where there is a strip club.
Owerri, a city to love and hate for various reasons, is just about to start overflowing with commercial sex workers. Sometimes, the number of girls standing at specific spots gives the impression that a religious crusade or revival is going on. Investigations revealed that most of the commercial sex workers are students of tertiary institutions from across the city, including Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Imo State University (IMSU), Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, and the Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo.
Some of the girls who have taken to prostitution mostimes blame their poor family as one of the major reasons of indulging in such social vice. Many of them claim to come from a wretched homes, hence they need for them to ‘hustle’ and make ends meet. Some of them in tertiary institutions often say that from the proceeds of their night ‘business’ comes their school fees and money to buy textbooks. I even discovered, from what my emergency ‘girlfriend’ told me, that most of our politicians on regular basis patronize these girls that they are old enough to father.
Ludicrously, an all-night dalliance with these could cost as cheap as N3,000 or less, depending on the time and the bargaining power of the man or the desperation of the girl. For N1,000, a guy could have quickie in the car or by roadside. At the Orange Room night club, I observed that some Keke(Tricycle) were packed along the road, and I noticed that people were lying at the back of one of the Keke but the driver didn’t bother to move or even start the tricycle. My curiosity grew, I moved closer and it dawn to me that the people I saw from a distance inside the Keke were actually having sex. Quickie inside a Keke Napep? I was shocked to my marrows. I thought I had seen the lowest level of human being but I was wrong. I knew it was time to go and that was how I abandoned my friends and new girlfriend, who were still dancing inside, and went home.
Like Umahi noted in his article, many of the girls you see hustling do so with the aid of Dutch courage. After getting high on drugs, especially Indian hemp, they are no longer ashamed to go out to look for men to sleep with them for money. Even some of the girls smoke at their hostels. I saw many of them smoking cigarettes and marijuana in dark corners around nightclub. I don’t wish to condemn these girls, I am not even in the position to do that, my interest and duty as a writer is to tell people what happen behind their backs or when they go to bed.
I don’t think this is largely due to the failure of the Government, I think many of our parents have failed in their responsibility to inculcate good morals to their wards. The countless number of cases of broken homes leaves much to be desired. Some of these girls lack requisite parental care, as most of them were either trained by one of the parents and in some cases, relatives. Some, whose parents denied love and care, were exposed to the street as hawkers even as primary school students. The mix with other children from other families and gradually begin to imbibe some of the vices associated with street lives.
The way prostitution is gaining grounds here in Owerri must surely be the reason why my lecturer and poet, Dr Khabyr Fasasi, of Alvan Ikoku Federal College Of Education, Owerri, wrote a poem titled: Owerri. In the said Poem, last stanza precisely, the Ogun born Imo based stylistician notes that Owerri has been striped of its virtues. This is after he had revealed the level of fornication, adultery and prostitution that goes on in the state. Regrettably, the poet laments the failure of the church(uncountable in Owerri), to instill discipline, self control and good conduct to the youths. At first, when I read the poem, I didn’t appreciate it, but after my experience on Sunday, I went back to the poem and nodded in agreement with the honest Fasasi. May my generation prevail against prostitution.
TRUTH IS BITTER, AS BITTER AS HONEY.