Of Sponsors and Conversations we Deliberately Postpone

Sponsor: definition
Sugar-girls prefer older men because they know what they want and what they have to give in return.

I recently chanced upon a video about a 21-year-old sugar-baby on BBC News Africa’s Facebook page. In the video, she explains how life as a sugar-baby is working out for her. Despite coming from a humble background, Jane is able to afford a life that her fellow students can only dream of, thanks to her two sponsors, Tom and Jeff. She is proud of her life choices. In fact, she admits that her parents raised her well, in a strong religious setup. The choice to trade sex for money was hers.

Why a sugar-baby and not anything else? “Everything in Nairobi is just money,” she says, “You have to hustle or else you will end up in the streets.” She goes on to point out her role models, Huddah Monroe and Vera Sidika, whose success she attributes to the same lifestyle. She would want to own a cosmetics line like Huddah’s or a house in the US like Vera. “What is wrong about sex anyway? People just make it sound wrong but actually sometimes, it ain’t wrong at all. 60% in the campuses have sponsors. Young ladies prefer dating older men. They know what they want,” she continues.

“Everything in Nairobi is just money. You have to hustle or else you will end up in the streets”.
— Jane, sugar-baby

The expected comments

As I read through the comments section, two opinions stood out: first, BBC, like most international media, chose to focus on negative stories about Africa and second, that stories surrounding sponsors and sex work are non-issues in this part of the world…that we have better things we should be talking about. While a few comments attempted to discuss the issue from a sober perspective, most castigated the media-house for appearing to promote the ‘immoral lifestyle’. 

As expected, the comments were embarrassingly revealing. Revealing of the stereotypical African attitude toward ‘taboo topics’. Real journalism tells all stories; the shameful and inspirational alike. The young lady in this story is clearly not ashamed of her lifestyle. Just because you disagree with it does not make it any less a famous lifestyle choice in Nairobi. You know only too well that hers is more the norm than the exception. In fact, her guess of 60% is quite likely to be accurate.

We must choose the truth over hypocrisy

If we are truly angry about our children choosing alternative lifestyles that are contrary to the values we thought we instilled in them, we must start talking. If we truly want to protect our children from predatory older men and women who believe that money can buy anything, we must start talking. We are never going to deal with the deeper issues leading to such choices if we will never lay our dogmas aside for a moment and have sober conversations about this and other “taboo topics”.

We are not angry enough if we would rather blame Mercy Keino, Caren Chepchumba, Sharon Otieno and others who allegedly died in this line of business than confront the bigger issues that led them into that line of business. You will not be angry enough until your daughter becomes one more statistic.

So, what are the deeper issues leading to this “trendy” lifestyle choice? What do you think can be done to counter the growth of sugar-baby-sponsor relationships? 

Robert Kamaru

Robert is a freelance writer, blogger and e-preneur. He is interested in all issues mental health, lifestyle and online business.

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3 Responses

  1. Qool Joey says:

    Nothing can be done, Robert. It’s just the normal flow of life.

    No amount of preaching or condemnation can stop the natural patterns of living. People will always do what they want. If it’s frowned upon by society, they’ll try to be discreet about it.

    Wherever there’s a “vaccum” something has to flow in an occupy that space. So if a young woman values the so-called fine things in life, however she gets them is her choice, and the consequences are hers to deal with.

    It’s always been like this, BTW. Traditionally, countless old men traded in livestock for teenage brides. The difference here is that the parents approved of such unions, even against the girl’s will.

    But now that girls have a choice on these matters, I’m not surprised that the pattern still exists.

    Is it wrong or right? That’s up to the individual to decide for themselves.

    • Robert Kamaru says:

      Thank you very much for your input, Joey. I mostly agree with you–cross-generational sex has always been happening, it is almost normal. Is it right or wrong? I believe questions of morality fall in a grey area and should never have to be legislated.

      Of concern to me is the materialistic trend. That young women and even men are now willing to go to any lengths to live a good life without working hard for it. It is not a culture we want to cultivate, for the sake of our nation’s future.

      • Joey says:

        And I in turn agree with you! We live in an era of instant gratification. Women have always used economy (or economic potential) to filter partners. But now it’s getting worse because they want to “have it all” like their peers.