Love Struck Foreigners Beware
Tourists assume all Kenyans are warm and friendly because they smile and say, “Jambo! Hakuna matata!” But as The Standard's Linah Benyawa and Mkala Mwaghesha discovered, some tourists in Mombasa rue the day they fell in love with Kenyan men and women who were great in bed, but expert swindlers
Famous for its sandy beaches and rolling waves, the Kenyan Coast is paradise for many tourists, but a financial waterloo for those who invest in fun and flesh.
The Kenyan beach boy may be quite the indigenous hunk, his dark sister a garden of sexual bliss, but these two are often shadowy and ruthless ‘investors’ who leave no banknote behind. Their specialty is lonely and middle-aged or ageing foreign tourists.
Petre, a German national, is a victim of the ‘Mombasa raha’ frenzy. He first visited Ukunda in 1996 for holiday and stayed in luxury hotels and cottages in Diani. That was then.
When Crazy Monday visited him recently, he came out of his single-roomed makuti shack bare chest.
fell in love
“I stayed at Neptune Beach Hotel for one month. I liked the place and the beaches. I fell in love with Mombasa and I decided to make it an annual visit,” says Petre.
He later opted to holiday twice every year in Mombasa. How then did his fortunes crumble?
“In 2003, I came for my holiday as usual. I had a local girlfriend who was staying in Mtopanga, Kisauni. I would sometimes stay at her house but used to shuttle back and forth to the cottages in Ukunda,” he explains.
He somehow spent his entire pension on her — and other local women.
Currently, he is penniless and spends most of his time at the beaches in Ukunda, acting as a tour-guide in exchange for money from German tourists.
Forced to live like the majority of the locals, Petre’s life is a far cry from what it was seven years ago. His life’s savings, after retiring from the German fashion industry, evaporated in the coastal heat.
Now he pays Sh400 rent for the room, the beach hotel he so loved is now forgotten. In his new ‘cottage’, he has a kettle and a stove, which he uses to prepare beverages and food.
“These days I eat sima (ugali) and sukuma wiki, maharagwe (beans) and mchicha. I like it!” he discloses.
Born 56 years ago, Petre has been registered as an alien and is learning Kiswahili. Despite the pauper life, he says he will never go back to his country where he left a wife and two children.
“He has never missed to pay his rent. He goes to the beach to seek menial jobs like beach boys,” said the landlord.
“He has embraced the local culture and also frequents mnazi (local brew) dens once in a while to unwind.”
Petre is in good company. Another victim is a German woman in her mid 50s who visited the Kenyan Coast, probably to enjoy her twilight years in the serenity of the gateway to East Africa.
Unfortunately, she found herself in the sin city of Mtwapa where readily available sex and a good life awaited. She met a Kenyan man and was immediately struck by his youthfulness and virility — he was in his early 30s and wore dreadlocks. They became lovers.
And because she was loaded and in ‘love’, she was transparent with her lover boy. She gave him everything money could buy. He knew where the money was and even had access to her bank account.
The two were so in love, or so she thought. They bought a house and started a business. But after about a year, she started noticing changes.
“He started spending money without my knowledge and when I asked him about it, he would get angry and threaten to leave me. And because I was in love, I kept quiet,” she recalls.
Not long after, she sold a piece of land they had acquired together.
“I later realised that the land was registered in his name because the transactions were carried out in his mother tongue in my presence. Upon questioning him, he became so furious that he frightened me into silence,” she explains. That marked the end of their relationship.
Another victim of manipulative beach boys and girls has been seen in Mtwapa in the North Coast roasting maize after losing all his fortunes to Kenyan women.
He had gotten himself a string of Kenyan lasses who spent all his fortunes before leaving him a pauper. Nowadays, he unwinds at the Uwanja wa Mbuzi area, infamous for its numerous mnazi dens and cheap prostitutes.
The Bombolulu area of Mombasa County is where a number of the fleeced tourists have made home. Starting with the one who got conned within months of arrival, the area has seen an influx of bankrupt wazungu, who can be seen walking in slippers and dirty clothes. Occasionally, they ask for handouts from matatu operators and vegetable sellers.
“We are used to them here (Bombolulu). They even bargain for fare. One was beaten the other day for trying to snatch a woman’s bag,” said a matatu operator.
Another female tourist had to seek legal counsel after her local husband swindled her off property. The two, who got married at the Attorney General’s office in Mombasa, bought a piece of land in Kikambala area of Kilifi County, only for the title deed to appear in his name.
The man, who already had a Kenyan wife, even changed the logbooks of the family cars to his name without her knowledge before vanishing into thin air.
“Because the sellers and land agents were his allies, they manipulated all the transactions in his favour,” says Philip Jagero, Executive Director Kenya Legal Defense Fund.
Jagero, however, says some would-be victims have been lucky to escape narrowly.
He gives an example of Rose, who came five years ago to the country and settled at the Kenyan South Coast. She met and married a local man, but called it quits after weeks when his demands became crazy.
“The Kenyan man demanded that she buys him a car and house while they were still on honeymoon at a villa in South Coast. But because all she wanted was real love and romance, she got so frustrated and ditched him,” Philip explains.
The locals have been known to do whatever it takes to net aged and moneyed tourists.
A young man in Kilifi, for instance, had to be treated for a urinary tract infection after his desire to swindle his frail-looking partner backfired.
Apparently, the 60-year-old woman used to bleed profusely every time they had sex. The young man, who had his eyes on the price, did not give it much thought, convincing himself that it was only a matter of months before she died and he walked home dry with her money.
In most cases, the beach boys are mostly school dropouts married to local women. Interestingly, their wives have full knowledge of what their men do, but conveniently choose to ignore the philandering for the bigger picture — wealth and a good life.
With the poverty levels along the Coast, the practice is not only appreciated but also highly encouraged as a ‘business enterprise’.
One such man in Mtwapa has amassed wealth after three relationships with white women spanning over ten years with his wife’s knowledge. In one of his ‘relationships’, his white lover nearly committed suicide after her fortunes ran dry. She had to book the next flight back home upon realising the man was happily married and quite the leech.
“All you have to do is learn a few English, Italian or German words and you are in business,” said one beach boy that we interviewed for this story, “then be patient and wait for the opportunity to come.”
And as they say, good things come to all those who wait, especially when tourist love insists on being blind. - The Standard