By Chioma Okezie-Okeh
In the Bible, we read, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, these words: “this son of mine was… lost but is found,” his father announced jubilantly on his return (Luke 15:24, NIV). But in Tafa Town of Kaduna State, whenever you hear anybody use those words, don’t think the speaker is talking about the prodigal son of the Bible.
Rather, he could be talking about trailer drivers getting lost in the arms of women of easy virtues. People say they are now the new prodigal sons who don’t come home or to their senses until they have finished spending their day’s, week’s or month’s earnings on bosomy prostitutes, of different shapes and sizes, swarming the area.
Story of the town
A November 2020 trip that took this correspondent and three of her journalism colleagues through the town served as a big eye opener on the truth of this assertion. Our destination was Kaduna. But having left Abuja very late, we were advised to pass the night at Tafa, a small town located on the Kaduna-Abuja expressway. The advice was given against the backdrop of kidnappings said to go on along that route at night. Located at the border between Kaduna and Niger State, Tafa is a town that many, over the years, have come to see as the choicest resting spot for travelers, especially trailer drivers.
Why choicest, one of us, a male colleague, asked, out of curiosity. The young man who was selling tigernuts and dates, turned round and said, while pointing at a road which I later came to identify as Baba Layi Street: “yarinya, flenty, flenty (plenty, plenty). Yarinya is a Hausa word for women, especially young women. With those few words he described, in a matter of seconds, the kind of fleshly pleasure business that goes on there.
Located on the long stretch of the untarred road are several drinking joints. Behind them are several bungalows, majority of them, single rooms. One of such had about 30 rooms in a compound. Located, nay, sandwiched among them, on that stretch of the road are a church and a mosque and, in the next street, a Sharia court. Apart from the Baba Layi Street, which many claim to be the headquarters of pleasure spots, located on both sides of the expressway are building structures which owners believe that renting them out for prostitutes’ use is the best way to make quick money.
“Go inside town if you dey find decent accommodation, na Karuwai full here, abi you dey find one? (Go into town if you are looking for a decent accommodation; all these houses are occupied by prostitutes. Except you want me to recommend one for you)”, a bar attendant advised.
The story is that the area has become a relaxation spot for trailer drivers. This is confirmed by a long line of different types of trucks parked in line stretching more than one-and-half on the major highway. Major attraction: gorgeous women swarming the area and charging service fee as much as N5000 and ready and willing to satisfy their clients’ sexual desires. It is said that some of the drivers are so obsessed with them that they stay back for days or instruct their conductors to complete the trip while they stay back.
Alhaji Shehu’s experience, advice and recommendation
Seated and facing a table surrounding by chairs in one of the drinking joints was a man in his fifties. He was gulping down a plate of cow leg pepper soup. Pretending not to know, the male colleague engaged him in a conversion as to why so many trailer drivers decide to park their vehicles there.
The man addressed as Alhaji Shehu by the barman giggled as he informed that it is in Tafa that trailer drivers get the energy to drive their trucks to any location especially far north. “It is not a trailer park yet but government must grant our request and allow us to get a park along this axis,” he said. “They are building one already and we hope that at the end of the day, they will not choose to use it for something else. It’s not easy to be on the road for more than 20 hours driving to some parts of the north. We simply stop here to help ourselves because most times we spend most of our time on the road. These girls are so sweet that I suspect jazz. I have been coming here for more than more than five years and I never get tired.”
One of the prostitutes, Chidinma by name, who was busy eavesdropping the conversation, chipped in: “Alhaji, you cannot fuck my toto without condom,” before she shook her boobs and buttocks seductively. “I have lasted for years in this business because we are very careful. HIV, especially gonorrhea, is plenty in this area. No amount of herb will clear it easily and I don’t want to destroy my womb because I know that one day I will surely get married. These aboki hate condom that is why the Hausa girls are so popular around this area. I can collect N5000 for the night if you want me,” she said as she pointed at an interpreter who she said was new in the area.
Back to his narration, Alhaji Shehu said that to rent a room in the area costs about N5000 a week. “If you pay, you can camp someone there for the week but you need to pay her N3000 every day for feeding. Any day you intend to have them, you will also pay N1000 for hard drug and N1000 for food and N5000 for their service. It is expensive but if you try, you will surely come back again and again.”
Asked to make recommendations, without batting an eyelid, he recommended Fatima and Titi to any man who wants to have a fill of sexual pleasure with the prostitutes. “It is very difficult to get them free,” he said. “Fatima and Titi get big breasts and wallahi they can roll their waists. But I can recommend Cynthia to you; the only problem is that she will not allow you to touch her without condom. But if you offer money as much as N50, 000, she will agree. But Titi is okay. Let me find her phone number for you.” With that, he started scrolling through his phone.
According to him, about 10 years ago, Ogere trailer park on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway used to be a converging point for trailer drivers till ethnic crises drove most of them away. “About 10 years ago, Hausa and Yoruba clashed leading to fights and destruction of properties. Our women ran away too. We only stop there these days to urinate, rest a bit and move on but at Tafa you are sure of relaxing in the arms of a woman. The food is good also.”
When asked why they are not observing the COVID 19 protocols, Alhaji Shehu quickly produced from his clothes’ pocket a bottle that he said is a native medicine made up of herbs. “I do not believe that it exists but to be on the safe side, I drink my herb. It helps to clean my system from all forms of illness. Most of us take herbs and they work for us.” Away from the eating area, in the company of our guide who claimed he had lived for more than 20 years in the area, we stepped into one of the bungalows, pretending to be investors.
A landlady’s observations
The elderly woman warmly welcomed us into a compound which she claimed to have built about 15 years ago. “It was initially a residential area but when the new business in this area started springing up, I converted the house into single rooms but the tenants all use a general toilet and bathroom,” Alhaja, as she was addressed, said.
Seated, she was made to believe that her visitors made up of two men and women were on a factfinding mission. All of a sudden, different kinds of women believed to be prostitutes suddenly started patrolling around the compound and exchanging pleasantries. Irritated, the elderly woman barked at them to stop harassing her visitors as they were not there in search of their service. “I am so sorry; they assume that everyone who steps into this place is a customer,” she said. “I have about 25 rooms here and they are all occupied at the moment by them. This is why I suggested that you should build such; the only thing is that you should try and make it self-contain rooms. It will pay you more money. If you put it up for a weekly rent, you will get N5000 but if it is monthly or yearly they will be begging to pay the same N5000 in a month. Most of our tenants are trailer drivers who pay for months and keep their favourite woman in the room while they are gone. This is the best business as long as you want to build around this area. They are about to build the park which means so many visitors will be coming here.”
Just as she was patiently taking us through the gains, a lady with two kids passed by. She was busy raining curses on them when Alhaja sarcastically told her to return the children to their fathers. “Yawancin yaran da kuke gani ‘yan iska ne (most of the children you see here are bastards),” she chipped in. She momentarily stopped to explain her response.
According to her, some of the visitors from every tribe that stopped by to patronize the women, without using condom, end up getting some of them pregnant. “The girls are not sure of the real fathers because they can sleep with several men at once without condom,” she said. “Take a closer look, you will see Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba faces. We have warned the girls to either use protection or go for family planning but they will not listen to us. These are the result and I hope they will all come and carry their children or the girls will grow and become prostitutes while the boys thieve.”
Encounter with Aminat
At about 7pm away from the bar, we took a walk down the road hoping to spot out one of the women on duty that day. Although they were few, Saturday Sun learnt that most of them were already camped in various rooms by their owners who are paying maintenance fee in their absence.
Pretending to be a prospective customer, a male colleague approached one of the girls who from her accent, is from the north. After offering her N3000 tip, Aminat as she introduced herself, sang like a canary when she was asked to recommend the best ladies that could serve two young men who were coming to the area for the first time on a visit.
A bit fluent in English, Aminat, 23, said she relocated to Tafa three years ago after being divorced by her husband. “I am from Zamfara State and my parents forced me to marry at the age of 15,” she said. “I was the second wife of Mallam Sani and he later married two more wives. I was able to produce a son for him but there was always fight amongst the wives. He decided that I should go after five years of marriage and I left. My son who was four years then stayed back and was taken care of by mother in-law. He is 7 years now and I normally visit him and send money for his education.
“Back home my family wanted to force me into another marriage but I refused. I started learning how to sew clothes. That was before my friend asked me to join her and travel down to Kaduna for business. Initially, when I got here and discovered what it was, I wanted to run back but after a customer gave me N20, 000, I changed my mind and stayed back. It has not been easy but I have achieved a lot.”
According to Aminat, one of the greatest challenges they face is that most of their patronisers do not want to use condom. “It is not only tanker drivers that come to patronize us, we have all kinds of people but majority are travelers,” he said. “This is why I take a lot of concoctions to keep me safe from contracting HIV or any other kind of sickness because most of these men have been on the road without washing. It will take a lot of begging before they agree to bath. It is not an easy job.”
Listing some of the women who she described as the most sought after, Aminat explained that there are more than 1000 rooms currently on rentage by the ladies. “They rent rooms here at N5000 a week and some of the ladies have paid for months courtesy of their owners. Normally when the men come, they will pay for a week and during that period, their selected woman is not expected to sleep with another man. She will stay in the house till the customer goes and comes back. We normally collect N3000 feeding fee on a daily basis. But if you want to sleep with us, you will pay N5000 for the work, N1000 for food and N1000 for hard drugs. The drugs are very important so that you can tolerate the dirty old men who want to touch you.”
She claimed that the cost of service is determined by their executives. “We normally attend meetings where we pay dues. It is there that they normally agree on the least amount that anyone can collect. Initially, it was N2500 before they reviewed it and increased it to N5000. So if you are able to bargain for a lower price then it is your luck. It was during the lockdown that we were flexible because we rarely had customers. Even now, we are warned not to kiss or hug our customers so that we do not contract coronavirus.” She laughed out aloud as she said so.
A hotbed of criminals
According to our guide, apart from prostitution, crime is also common in the area. “Criminals also pay for these houses and camp with their women, although police usually raid the area and arrest most of them,” he said. “As for sex trade over here, it will get worse since government has started building a trailer park for them. The community members who are few are not worried because they believe that the women are the ones attracting business to the area.
Apart from women, they buy things here, so small businesses are striving. It is not possible for a young girl to grow in this area and not be seen as a prostitute. Those who are raising decent daughters live far away in the village or neighbouring town.”