Mandinka Sex Tourism for Ladies

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Africa » Gambia » Western Division » Kololi
July 2nd 2007
Published: July 2nd 2007
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The Gambia synthesizes in few thousands of Km² all defects and virtues of the young independent Africa. On one hand it builds a tourism industry thanks to the callback of kilometers of white beaches and iridescent markets, on the other one, seems incapable to fulfill whichever undertaken plan, including the one of a repressive dictatorship. You get a first morsel as soon as you reach the border, arriving from Senegal. In that country, agents wear uniform and are efficient (by African standards) in carrying on their duties. On this part of the line, instead, customs officers show up in worn out uniforms lacking of identification or flatly in civilian clothes, and every encounter with those who have had the bad luck to be born white seems necessarily to be concluded with the passage of some banknotes from the wallet of this into the officer’s one.

Countries ruled by dictatorial regimes are notoriously places where foreigners are treated with white gloves as far as these keep their noses out from internal political matters. Cuba, China, former USSR, Saddam’s Iraq: all examples of dictatorships that misusing police power succeed in creating an apparent, false paradise for tourists (albeit built in spite of local’s civil rights). But not in Africa. Here people don’t give a damn of who is in power, being a colonial power, a democracy or a dictatorship. The natural African passivity lets historical buildings and railroads falling apart, but does the same with tyrants.

Passed without expenditures the elated bribing attempt, I entered into the true Gambia, a Country entirely developed on the two sides of the homonymous river in the same way of what happened with the ancient Egyptian civilization on the Nile banks. To reach Banjul, the administrative capital, you have to cross the mouth of the river, half an hour ferry ride. On board, just about anything is sold (and bought): counterfeit watches, counterfeit T-shirts and Chinese crap of any imaginable kind. It always surprises me to observe how those who have less seem to make a point in demonstrating that can allow themselves to spend in the most useless ways.

Banjul is built on a island, not even a large one, and that explains perhaps the relative, unusual tranquility that you can feel. The unusual absence of hasslers, swindlers, pimps and whores has but one explanation: Senegambia. This is a long, narrow strip, approximately 10 Km, developed along the coast starting from Bakau Cape, at the mouth of the Gambia river, up to Kololi, true heart of this spiritless body. Everything is synthetic here. True Africa seems thousands of kms away. All buildings are freshly whitewashed, most stores sell western products (at western prices) and even rubbish by the roads is present just in minimum amounts. And the hassler’s party has here absolute majority. And it is here that old (or aged) European ladies come looking for a balm for their soul's wrinkles.

One always hopes that full gender parity will be achieved through the improvement of man, not thanks to the barbarization of woman. That will be the former to stop thinking with their testicles, not that latter to start hiring whores. Then you arrive in Gambia and discover that 3 tourists out of 4 here are sad, worn out white women accompanied by athletic young black men, thirty years their younger. l’amour?

I had read some time ago on this same site an interesting blog (Interview with the Sex Tourist) about sex tourism in the Philippines, the male version of what happens here in Gambia. From there the idea of writing something on the same wave. Only problem: in that case the author (aspiringnomad) had the chance to speak from man to man with the sexual tourist. Belonging to the same sex created a sort of complicity that I could never achieve here with the SHE sex tourist. Limits of gallantry would have prevented me to approach one these elder ladies and ask her: “Excuse me, are you here ‘cause you are desperate?” No, I had to find an alternative way.

The occasion arrived a few days later. I was taking a stroll along Kololi beach, maybe not one of the world wonders, but surely well worthy of attention. And instead it was absolutely deserted. It is true that was off season, but is equally true you could still meet some tourists in bars and hotels. My initial wonder in being all alone on a wide white sandy beach lined with coconut palm trees, starts to gradually fade away as consequence of the constant, repeated attacks of a truly horde of nagging beach boys of all sorts. One hour later I was already totally aware that I would never again set foot on that beach. I stop to rest in the shade of a palm tree when the last and most persistent of the hasslers, such Ibrahim, approached me.

If you get boarded while taking a walk, you simply continue walking and after a few steps you will be left alone: walking is working. But if you are sitting under a palm tree, your chances to get back to your peaceful loneliness any soon are really low. And in fact, there was no way to get rid of Ibrahim. He had introduced himself and made himself comfortable next to me uninvited and was already singing the usual tourist charmer litany. He had the healthy aspect typical of who does not work but eats well: tall, broad, tightly dressed in a red shirt fits to evidence the shapes of his masculinity, tattooed on both biceps. Some thirty years of age, maybe less, and an almost perfect white smile only slightly ruined by an excessive gap between the two central upper incisors. And indeed I could not understand where was he trying to get with his eloquence. Perhaps my by now muezzin style beard was not good enough as a clue to make him understand that I was not a woman? Or maybe Ibrahim was a progressive who indifferently served males and females like modern hairdressing salons?

Surely, his oratorical abilities were remarkable and now he was telling me of his leisure trips to the United States and England. He spoke of it with such minutia about details that two could be the cases: either he was inventing everything, in which case he possessed an imagination worthy of the best novelists, or indeed he had being touring such countries and therefore what he must possess was the ability of living thanks to other’s wallets, even a more exceptional dowry.

I let him going on for a while, by now I was not even bothered by his intrusiveness. Then, I openly asked him what did he want to sell me. His reaction was one of (well) simulated disdain, as to say “I speak with open heart and you pay me back in such currency”. He even made a move to stand up and leave, insulted. But he didn’t go. And then was when the idea that Ibrahim could help me came to my mind.

I told him to cut the charade short and that I knew types like him. Those who have understood that sweet-talking tourists pays more (and cost less) than working. That I had long ago reached the same conclusion and that therefore I did not blame him. But also that being in a way colleagues he could not play this kind of card against me. Finally, I proposed him a transaction, an honest sale: he would have granted me an interview satisfying certain curiosities of mine about sex trade for ladies in Gambia, I would have paid the information 500 dalasi (ca.17€). Ibrahim listened to the proposal with diffidence, but to the news of a reward his pupils contract like those of an eagle who has just sighted a wild rabbit in a clearing underneath.

This is a resume of the consequent conversation.
Ibrahim: “Are you a journalist?”
Marco: “Same level of curiosity, but nobody pays me.”
I: “A policeman?”
M: “Do I look like a policeman?”
I: “Not all policemen look like policemen.”
M: “OK, true, however No, I’m not a policeman. I couldn’t.”
I: “Why couldn’t you?”
M: “Because a policeman must be either completely straight or completely crooked.”
I: “And are you not completely straight?”
M: “I’m flexible.”
I: “Then you work for a NGO?”
M: “For a NGO? A volunteer? Me? You must be joking. I can hardly bear the idea of working for a wage, left alone doing it for free. Anyway, the idea was that I asked the questions, not the contrary. If we go on this way, it will be you the one who has to pay me.”
I: “OK then, let’s start. Advance payment.”
M: “Yes, and my ass is hairless. First you tell me an interesting story, then you will have the 500 dalasi.”
I: “Let’s make 800.”
M: “Let’s make 200.”
(Ibrahim’s giggle of complicity. He then brings his right fist against mine and then to his chest)
I: “OK chef, 500.”
M: “Let’s begin. Are you Gambian?”
I: “Yes.”
M: “Ethny?”
I: “Mandinka.”
M: “Age?”
I: “28.”
M: “How long have you been working here in Senegambia for?”
I: “6 years.”
M: “Good money?”
I: “Good enough.”
M: “How good?”
I (smiling): “More than 500 dalasi per day.”
M (smiling): “I like people with sense of humor. On the other hand, I’m sure that with that other kind of customers your energies consumption would be proportionally higher.”
(other giggle, other fist against fist and to his chest)
M: “Where do you find customers?”
I: “At the beach by day, in the bars at night.”
M: “How do you select potential customers? I mean, in high season I guess there will be plenty of white women over here”
I: “Oh, yes, plenty. However, it isn’t difficult to understand who is here to sunbath and who is here for… (winking and giggling)”
M: “How do you understand it?”
I: “Those who come for the men always travel alone and usually are between 40 and 60 years old. And also you see that they are looking for something. I don’t know. After a while you understand it by instinct.”
M: “And once you have chosen the potential customer?”
I: “I approach her with a pretest and start making conversation.”
M: “Yeah, I had noticed you have no shortage of vocabulary.”
(other giggle, third fist against fist)
M: “However, this is the same system used by beach boys everywhere in the world. Tell me something that I don’t know. After you have chatted her up, what do you do? You show her your brochure inclusive of services and prices and say that don’t accept credit cards?”
I (serious): “Absolutely. Never talk about money to a lady. If she is a young one, you can go and propose sex for money, and sometimes it works. But never with a lady.”
M: “I don’t understand. If you don’t tell them or make them understand that you are a gigolo then what happens when the time for the… bill arrives?”
I (smiling again): “50 years old ladies don’t come here to have sex for money. They come here because they are lonely. If you go and propose her to fuck in return for 50£ you are not offering them what they are looking for. It is all here (tapping his temple with his index finger).”
M: “OK, I’ve got the concept now. Still I do not understand where is your gain in all this. And don’t tell me you do it for free, someone must pay for your clothes and for your travels.”
I (maliciously smiling): “One thing is not to ask for money beforehand, a different thing is that they always end up paying you.”
M: “Therefore it is not just sex?”
I: “No. During their holiday you are their full time boyfriend. That’s what they were looking for. Then there is also sex, obviously.”
M: “OK, so, if I correctly understood these ladies don’t come here just to fuck?”
I: “There are also some of that type. They come for shorter periods and they spend most of their time in hotel and when they want to fuck they just send to call a gigolo (or two). But I don’t work in that business.”
M: “Why not?”
I: “Too complicated, you need to work for an agency and you earn less than working by yourself.”
M: “A curiosity: the greatest part of women I see here around are definitely not very attractive, have you ever had problem for… (raising my eyebrows)?”
I: “Never. Sometimes, if I feel tired, I eat turtle dick and everything goes all right.”
M: “Turtle dick?”
I: “Yes, is good for… (movement of his forearm from horizontal to vertical position).”
M: “And, how do you eat turtle dick? No, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. Let’s remain in the gore field. How old was your oldest customer?”
I: “73.”
M: “What??????? Fuck. I bet that a big wave of turtle’s castrations must have swept the Gambian seas at the time!”
I: “What?”
M: “Never mind, surreal humor. One more thing: have you ever fallen in love with any of your customers?”
I: “In a way, I love them all.”
M: “And them?”
I: “Most of them, I think.”
M: “One last question, Ibrahim: Do you think these ladies know you are a gigolo or genuinely believe you are their fiancée?”
I (smiling): “Everyone believes in what he wants to believe it is the truth.”

La versione italiana di questo blog la trovi sul sito
Link: Turismo Sessuale Mandinka per Signore


2nd July 2007

Job well done!
If the bloggers continue this trend, travelblog will soon be full of stories of the most peculiar and bizarre people in the travel scene. Now I'll set my hopes for a journal about someone interviewing a guy typing up Nigeria-letters...
3rd July 2007

"He had the healthy aspect typical of who does not work but eats well" Prostitution isn't work?
3rd July 2007

Very interesting!
Thanks for commenting on your conversation. Every detail fits in with the pattern I discovered while researching my book on female sex tourism, entitled "Romance on the Road: Traveling Women Who Love Foreign Men."
3rd July 2007

Re: to Grantcorp
Ehi, that would be great, I hadn't actually tought about it just yet. No hurry, anyway: Lagos wasn't built in a day, ehm, I mean Rome.
16th May 2008

Holes! Holes!
I read this story with utter disbelieve. The whole episode with ibrahim seems fake to me; the story is full of holes. I wont deny there is sex tourism in the gambia but some of the things you just mention are just not true. Maybe you have an agenda besides even in the west it is not uncommon to see an older woman being with a younger man.
16th May 2008

To Lamin
I never stated, neither in this blog nor in any other of mine that there aren't young man/older woman couples in the West. More important yet, I never expressed any sort of moral judgment on the issue, just plain facts. And about me writing what I wrote because some sort of secret agenda... well, do I seriously need to answer to that???
19th June 2008

load of bollocks
Its obvious you have done some sort of cosmetic surgery to your story, you need to know that people like ibrahim never speak as elquent as you portray him, matter of fact its comfortable to say they dont speak English at all. True bumstars exist but you need to be fair in your article by saying the efforts of the Government in curbing it. You are obviously a biased tourist, from the way you painted the beaches in uncouth words. By the way if you needed to be in a world where everything is perfect why didnt you remain wherever you came from,
19th June 2008

load of bollocks
It's curious how this article was published almost a year ago and now, all of a sudden I start receiving comments and messages against its veracity and in favour of the gambian government that has miracously solved the problem. It must be a coincidence...
30th January 2009

my experiance was different
i have traveled Africa wide but i must say with honesty that i have found the Gambia one of the most decent tourist destinations. i may not refute this story, but i really can never tell that this is or could be close to the truth. if i may ask, how long have u been in the Gambia and how many more interviews did you conduct to warrant you portraying the image of the country on the WWW in this manner? Hmmmm. i doubt if this story was not manufactured in your own room....
31st January 2009

Re: to Chel
I guess that, had I invented the whole lot, I would not publish those comments suggesting that that might be the case... Anyway, in no point of my story I did state that Gambia was not decent... Marco
18th May 2009

curios to know more
Thank you to Marco for a very interesting post. Also I see that the author of Romance on the Road has visited and made a comment. I was just reading reviews of her book online, before seeing this post. I just want to say that there are some women out here who would love to do some sex/romance tourism, but don't have access to much useful information. Men can find plenty of guides and forums on the web. Women tend to keep this a secret. It's about time they start sharing more of their stories.
13th September 2009

Dirty Secret
Most people know about white women engaging in sex tourism in the Caribbean and in parts of Africa etc (black men seem to be the favourite of Western, female sex tourists). The only thing that surprises me is that they get off with it with so little comment or stigman being attached. God only knows how many words have been written demonising Western male sex tourists (the usual target would be Pattaya) but if anything Western female sex tourists are actually treated sympathetically in popular culture (can't recall the name of the recent film about French, white, female sex tourists in 1970's Haiti). Do you think it is anything to do with white, middle class females being unwilling to expend too much vitriol on condemning the actions of other white, middle class females? Much easier to go back to talking about male, tatooed, working class, Western sex tourists instead I suppose. Appallingly, blatant double standards apply when it comes to discussing white women flying off to have sex with black men in the Caribbean and all the other ususal places
6th January 2010

compleat stisfaction
my self Rahul kumar. now i am doing automobile company.
17th January 2010

want more information on romance tourism
love to hear this information.. but would love more details.
5th April 2010

sounds about right
I've been travelling in West Africa for a while and can confirm that it's everywhere. It would seem that Dakar's better hotels seem to cater almost exclusively for the French female sex tourist. It's not suprising though that they make up the bulk of the visitors as West Africa doesn't have a great dealto offer the traditional tourist.
19th April 2010

you from europe will never understand
....because your concept of love and sex is different from the african soul...and african men...
23rd April 2010

Re: To Margit
Are you suggesting that, while mature men travelling to Thailand or Philippines for pretty much buying sex (or "love") makes for a depravated lot of losers, mature women doing the same in Gambia or Senegal are there because they caught the true spirit of Africa? an interesting point...
10th July 2010

Solo female visitors to Africa
I am thinking of visiting West Africa and know friends that have been there. During my online research, one thing has jumped out at me; on internet forums the majority of the posters about West Africa (eg Ghana etc) are invariably white women from Western countries. On many occasions they reveal in their posts that they travelled there alone. Now, I'm not suggesting that this immediately implies they are sex tourists, but the very clear demographic profiling does raise suspicions. High profile female sex tourism destinations such as the Caribbean show that single and unaccompained (unless by other single, white females) tourists make up a very high proportion of the visitors. Similar "scenes" can be witnessed in parts of North Africa.
6th October 2010

My god what have we become ?
12th February 2011

you know marco, i am a gambian; and i've lived in the west for the past 15 years, i hate to disagree with you but you are absolutely right. job well done there should be more guys like out there exposing these lazy asses to get a job.

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