My uncomfortable confessional in Accra’s red light district

2009-11-06 14:06

SOME of my closest friends are prostitutes, women who really work the streets, bars, clubs and other social places trading their vajayjays for money.

Some people think it is ­inconceivable for a black woman to be financially independent, so they just assume that I am a prostitute as they never see me with a man.

The assumption has made a veritable mess of my life.

Example: “Every guy wants to have sex with you,” Koffi the pimp/peddler at Danquar circle, Accra, tells me.

But I’m okay with being mistaken for a street ho. That is if whoring means fabulous singlehood, happy celibacy and a self-hustled, jet-set life dressed in grand boubous.

The reality is that I’m socialising out of my league. Take Jessica, the original pro ho around the block.

She has been working the streets for many years. “That’s why I look haggard,” she says trotting the streets of Labadi one Friday morning just off duty.

She is thin with a muscular body that she has bleached into looking white. Jessica has thin lips, talons for fingernails and a very bad wig. It turns out she’s the type that’s always on duty.

In her house, she sits next to me and makes a go at my breast.

“Oh no. I don’t do that,” I say casually.

“Don’t worry there’s nothing wrong with girls kissing and touching,” she responds. Note how she does not say if her intended action will be free or for a fee.

Jessica takes out her three big suitcases, throws clothes all over the place and tries to outfit me from the stock she keeps because people here always have something to sell.

She forces me into a tiny outfit. I grimace. She pulls out horrendous silver “prostitute boots”, leads me to her full-length mirror and tells me I look great.

“You just have to slim down otherwise you won’t get a white man,” she advises.

I tell her I am not a prostitute.

“All women are prostitutes darling, even the married ones,” she ­declares, laughing.

We meet randomly out on the town. She now introduces me to “friends”. She was scouting one afternoon at Labadi beach and I was observing.

Next thing she calls me over for introductions and invitations to ­socialise. Recently she sized me up, ran her hands over my body and said: “Well, you are a beautiful girl why don’t you just sleep with men?”

I was talking career options here. My posse includes the block’s half naked chubby ho and a fresh-faced young one with a very hot body. She thinks I have confidence issues and tries bringing me out of my shell by facilitating my hook-ups.

My favourite lady of the night is Diana in Cotonou. She looks like an aunt, which is why we start chatting when we meet at Ylang Ylang restaurant. She offers to show me around town.

We are in my hotel room, putting the final touches to our night faces when she sits and says: “You know when I was talking about men I ­actually wanted to say that when I’m out and someone says they like me and agree to give me money, then I follow them.”

She “hates it”.

Meanwhile, I cannot judge the ­union between poverty and desperation. So I watch her and listen as she talks about her relationships, her voice all sweet. She takes off her wig to reveal a small thick afro and smooths her girl-next-door outfit, a denim dungaree dress and a floral shirt.

And you know what happens to me around this whore? I own up. I had sex with someone who removed the condom. Now I’m very afraid.

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