It had been a long journey and I was exhausted. I had left Zimbabwe some two days before and was now stuck at the Leopold Senghor Airport in Dakar, Senegal eager to embark on the last leg of my journey to Banjul, the Gambia to take part in the 50th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. I was exhausted and in no mood for chit chat. May I join you? He asked. Sure, I responded. He asked all the niceties about where I was going, where I was coming from, why I was travelling. Then the conversation got more personal, do I have a boyfriend, is our relationship serious and all this time I wondered where the conversation was going. Then came the bombshell, was I a virgin. At this stage I was doing my level best to control my temper because clearly this Indian man was trying to pick me up. I asked why he was asking such personal questions and his response was blunt…Oh well you know, sex is easy in Africa.
On investigating further, I discovered that his conclusion emanated from his experiences in Guinea where allegedly he discovered a society where it is easy for a man to get sex from a woman he hardly knows. I doubted his assertions about Guinea and I objected to his generalisations about African women. It is such generalisations that breed prejudices and such prejudices lead to the abuse of women. It is from the presumption that all women love attention that most men think they can comment on a woman’s looks loudly and she will appreciate it yet some of us find that to be harassment. It is from the presumption that all women should not have an opinion that women’s voices are suppressed yet without my voice I am incomplete. It is also from the presumption that a woman’s place is in the kitchen that the girl child is not given an equal opportunity to an education as a boy and hence her chances of making it big in life are limited yet those of us who have been given the chance are proving to be equally capable to men …if not better.
Hence I made it clear to him that sex is not ‘easy’ in Africa. I made it clear that simply because women have a choice to determine their sexuality and sexual conduct does not make them prostitutes as he suggested. I made it clear I was not available for a pick up. I also made it clear I found his attempt to pick me up deplorable and that he owed me an apology.
In the end I spent the 12 hours of my transit comfortably ensconced in the VIP lounge, having warm tea and delicious cookies, all paid for by the Indian not-so-gentle-man as part of his ‘apology package’ and NO I did not have to sleep with him to get all that.