10 January 2013

Uganda: Kiyembe Slum - Students Choke On Drugs, Cheap Alcohol and Sex

Students puffing ganja, cheap sex offers, excessive drinking and gambling are some of the vices you would not miss when you are in Kiyembe - a slum opposite Kampala International University in Kansanga.

Kiyembe is located between the rich neighbourhood of Muyenga, Kabalagala and Kansanga. The slum covers over 25 hectares of land, with a population of about 40,000 people, both students and local residents.

Most of the houses in this area are in a sorry state. It is only students' hostels like the famous Kinaigeria Hostel, George Livingstone, Kafumbi and others that look like real homes.

Inside these rusty buildings, life is lived large. "People here care about money, sex and booze. It is the disillusioned youth who recently added the forth element of ganja," Kebirungi, a resident of Kiyembe says.

"It is very hard for the Police to catch some of these people because we are mixed up. We have students and locals so it's kind of hard to know who is who."

"However, most of the drinking is done at Nam's bar and that is where you even find prostitutes," Kebirungi adds. Just in the heart of the slum is Numugwere's bar locally known as Nam's bar. At Nam's, only local brew including Malwa and Waragi is sold. "Most of my clients are university students. Sometimes they also get frustrated with life and come here to cool off the heat of books," Mama Nam says.

The ganja boys relaxing in their ghetto

Look properly (she points in the other room), we also have ebijjujulu (young girls for sex). If you have some money, I will get you one," Mama Nam adds. Just on the right of Nam's bar, red-eyed boys sit on window ledges as they release puffs of ganja smoke and sniff white powdered stuff.

Mama Nam tells me that they are KIU students enjoying their leisure time. "Most of those boys are very deadly. You should not disturb them with any questions. Most of them are from Kenya and Sudan," she says.

In the other corner, the other boys are seated gambling as the others play cards. During the puffing, one of the boys orders Mama Nam to bring him a 'stick'. Minutes later, Mama Nam hands him a rolled marijuana stick and in return, she gets a sh500 coin.

Sex business in the area

Mama Nam does not let her clients just leave after they have bought booze. "Our girls are well experienced to handle any man," she explains. "We charge sh5,000 for each girl. Actually, sh1,000 is for the lodge, and sh4,000 for sex not exceeding one hour."

Who is selling what?

According to Olivia, a renowned lady of the night, business in Kasanga hostels is fast growing.

"Banange, sometime back, we used to fight to get clients, but now the students call you themselves. It's hard to believe, but things have changed rapidly. I have been here for over three years and I have seen a lot. You see, the good thing about this university is that, most of the students are from other countries and give us some good money unlike Ugandans who want free things," she says.

"Mama Nam has also just started this business. She just went to the village recently and brought young girls to serve her clients and she is doing well. The only problem is that these boys sometimes get high on drugs and mistreat girls.

Sometimes they even fight among themselves," she adds.

Olivia says they face competition from some girls who are studying at university. "They also run out of cash and begin to look around for clients. So you find at the end of the day men prefer them to the local girls around," she says.

What the Police say

According to the officer-in-charge, Kasanga Police station, Baluku, no major incidents of rape or aggravated drug abuse have been reported involving KIU students. He, however, says: "We arrest young boys from that area every day after catching them smocking weed or stealing laptops.

Recently, I arrested 10 of them. You see, they could be telling us lies that they are just residents yet they are students. That is something we are going to find out," he says.

But these other prostitutes, idlers and ganja smokers, we arrest every day. That is why I am increasing operations in this area every day. We want to make sure that such people or students are brought to book so that they do not contaminate our society," he adds.

Efforts to contact KIU University for a comment about the issue were futile as the personnel in charge could not be reached.

If not checked, Kiyembe hostels will remain a notorious den of sex, booze and drugs -which will see the young generation living in the area destroyed morally, spiritually and physically.

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