Kenya: Kisii Stirs Back to Life as Town Prepares to Host Mashujaa Day Celebrations

14 October 2020

When the new coronavirus set in the country in early March, it took away the blissful Kisii town night life, making it a ghost town, lifeless and hostile due to the heavy presence of police officers who were enforcing curfew orders.

Although this was not unique to Kisii town alone, the depressed night life dealt a major blow to the hospitality industry which is dependent on active night activity.

But now, life is slowly returning to normal, especially as the county prepares to host the Mashujaa Day national celebrations on October 20.

Already, hundreds of visitors have pitched camp, especially those involved in various preparations ahead of the D-Day.

The town currently plays host to more than 1,000 Kenya Defence Forces officers, according to Governor James Ongwae.

"Kisii now has over 1,000 KDF officers and, of course, hundreds of other visitors. The number will continue to rise as we approach the D-Day," said Mr Ongwae during a media briefing Tuesday.

The KDF officers are among hundreds of officers who, after their working hours, flock to the town to sample what it has to offer in terms of entertainment.

From the delicious food the town has to offer - matoke (cooked bananas), meat and chicken laced with traditional chinsaga, rinagu and masosa - the visitors are enjoying their every moment.

It is said there is no partying without drinks. The order by President Uhuru Kenyatta to allow sale of alcoholic drinks about a fortnight ago was quite timely; visitors and the locals alike have been drinking late into the night.

It is party after party in Kisii town, and Governor Ongwae says anyone who wants to enjoy life must try it in Kisii.

The numerous bars, night clubs and restaurants in the town cannot go unnoticed and have indeed brought back the night life.

Vibrant night life

Several new entertainment joints have also breathed life into the once-sleepy rural town that has witnessed a massive economic growth in the last eight years of devolution.

At 8pm in Kisii town, one would be forgiven for thinking that the day has just started. There are many people in the streets. Everyone appears to be in a hurry and the town burst to life under the night sky.

There is booming music and brightly coloured flickering lights from the many entertainment joints on various streets of the town. Most of the joints are in close proximity to one another, although each has it own clientele.

Along Hospital Road, there are about 10 clubs - half of them newly established - all seeking to attract and maintain clients.

Havana Lounge, Jazz, Dallas, Focus, Hotspot, Zonic, Mwalimu International Hotel and Club Whiz are some of the oldest clubs which are now struggling to compete the newly-opened joints such as The CJ, Sky Garden, Diploz, Mocha Place, Buddys Bar & Grill, Big Boss, Club Waves, Club Attic and Whisky River Lounge.

Kisii town has a vibrant night life and entertainment not just for the residents, but also for residents of the neighbouring Nyamira, Trans Mara, Bomet, Migori and Homa Bay counties. Some revellers come from as far as Kisumu.

Governor Ongwae says the active night life signifies growth of the county's economy.

"The devolved unit controls 60 per cent of the money market in Nyanza, the reason being the presence of a Central Bank branch in the region," says Mr Ongwae.

The county chief says street lighting has improved security in the town.

"Revellers are no longer worried about being mugged," said Mr Ongwae in an interview.

He said his government has provided a friendly environment to investors, hence the mushrooming of entertainment joints.

"The competition is healthy competition for business since clients are assure of better quality goods and services," he said.

Some clubs host a twinkling night on particular nights and this is when men flock to sample the bevy of beauties. Some of the dancers are sourced from Uganda.

Mr George Sarima,the proprietor of Havana Lounge - one of the oldest clubs in town - says what has worked for him is the kind of music he plays at his club.

"I started this club in June 2006. While we have stood the test of time, most establishments that started around that time have closed shop," he said.

On slow days like Monday and Tuesday, the club reduces liquor prices by Sh20 during happy hour between 6pm and 8pm.

"Our music mostly appeals to a clientele above the age of 25 years old, since most of them have jobs and, therefore, can afford to buy drinks," said Mr Sarima.

Twilight girls

For example, on Wednesdays, clients are treated to soul music, reggae on Sundays and all genres of music on Saturdays.

"We also boast of high hygiene standards and we ensure our washrooms are clean," he said.

Mr Alloys Moseti of Diploz, one of the new joints in Kisii town, says ample parking at his premises is what attracts clients.

"We know parking is a problem in Kisii town due to congestion, but here, we give free parking for our clients," said Mr Moseti, adding that his clients are mostly people in their 40s.

His clubs also offers special diets for clients, given that some are old and suffer from various lifestyle diseases.

"Our kitchen is also in the open and our clients get to see what we are preparing at any given time," said Mr Moseti.

For those who prefer hanging out in lesser crowded places, there are dozens of clubs and restaurants on the outskirts of the town, including Dans, Magharibi, Le Premier, The Junction and Nyakoe.

Ufanisi Resort, Kamel Park and La Serena are some of the high-end hospitality facilities away from town where the affluent prefer to hang out.

And you can't talk about Kisii's night life, without mentioning the twilight girls, many of them still in their teens.

"These girls are so aggressive. If you are not careful, they will pull you towards them," says a man whom we witnessed being conversing with a group of twilight girls.

These commercial sex workers often lie in wait for potential clients in pubs where they keep themselves busy by dancing the night away.

Some these commercial transaction are carried out in small temporary kiosks which mostly operate at night, for obvious reasons.

But there are also numerous incidents of men being drugged and robbed of their cash and valuables by the twilight girls.

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