The doors to the world’s oldest and most secretive profession— prostitution— are usually closely guarded. However, this particular place in Bugolobi is open for obvious reasons. It is advertised as a massage parlour offering Chinese massage.
As the naïve pass by this place on a daily basis unbothered by what transpires behind the fortified walls, the Kampala Sun team, acting on a tip-off, investigated and found a wellorchestrated and disguised seedy prostitution business run by a Chinese ‘investor’, Li Yi Sen, alias Chu Lee, seemingly in his 40s.
Chu Lee came into Uganda seven years ago and established the two Chinese parlours, one on Hannington Road opposite Crested Towers and another on Plot 22, Bunyonyi Drive, Kataza in Bugolobi.
They operate under secrecy and those involved in this seedy business are mainly presentable men most of who are either happily married or in stable relationships.
They mainly draw from the middle class and corporate world, if their showy lifestyles and ability to dish out obscene amounts of money to the masseuses are anything to go by.
Many men take advantage of the lunch breaks to sneak to these brothels. Satisfied customers regale friends with tales behind closed doors and the sleazy ring can only grow.
For some odd reason, whereas the massage parlour in Kataza isn’t hidden to the naked eye, most people driving and walking by to the nearby Akamwesi Hostel or the City Regency Hotel have no clue or simply ignore what goes on inside.
We found a team of 13 women, mainly of Rwandese origin lounging around the compound. They conversed in French, Swahili plus a smattering of English and Luganda.
One can tell that they never interact freely and their lives are heavily controlled by Chu Lee, who mans the business with his wife. From what we later learnt, these girls, (19 to 30 years), rarely leave the premises. They start work at 8:00am and break off at 10:00pm.
One of the girls confessed behind closed doors that the pay from the Chinese was okay, with the girls getting a monthly stipend of sh500,000 from Chu Lee.
However, most of their negotiations are made with male clients and in some cases, girls pocket up to sh200,000 depending on one’s bargaining power.
The girl who spoke to us has a four-year-old daughter and rents a house at sh350,000, a month in Kitintale.
On average, she says, each of the girls handles up to five male clients a day and it is upon Chu Lee to assign a particular masseuse to a customer. In some cases, however, some men ask for a specific girl to massage them. The girls divide their time between the establishment at Bugolobi and the one on Hannington road.
For the girls, it is brisk business too because like one girl confesses, they get proposals from men to continue with liaisons outside the massage parlour; some suggesting dates at exclusive hotels. Most girls, however, know better than to accept these dates.
“It is better for us because under this arrangement, the man will get what he wants once and the session is over in minutes. If one wants more, they pay an additional sh30,000 to boss to occupy the room for another hour and we renegotiate the fee,” she says.
As it is with many girls of Rwandese origin, she was lured by a racket of people who are involved in the practice of luring orphaned teenage girls into prostitution in Kampala where they are in high demand.
Many girls, she confesses, have successfully acted as bait for Ugandan male customers and made a fortune. It is the prospect of making big money that lures most girls and it is not about to end soon.
As a rule, at the border posts, they declare that they are going to visit relatives in Uganda.
Many girls operate around Hannyz Discotheque and bar on Namirembe Road, where they are involved in steamy karaoke and strip tease sessions every Friday night.
The danger of contracting HIV or STDs as most men insist on unprotected sex for a higher fee remains their biggest problem.
Legal perspective A city lawyer, on condition of anonymity, says as long as the women at the massage parlourswillingly accepted to work there without coercion or as victims of trafficking, Chu Lee is operating within the precincts of the law. His only worry is if his trade licence expired.
Although you would imagine he would be accused of conspiracy to control prostitution, there is no Prostitution Act in Uganda, which means he can operate freely.
Borrowing from the modern world, the lawyer says that to establish a brothel and operate it lawfully requires a person to obtain a brothel licence as well as a local authority planning approval for the brothel.
Once these two requirements are met, the brothel may be operated in accordance with State and local laws.
Some rules include being located 200 metres away from any boundary or residential area.
All I needed to the place was not a map, but determination. A colleague had taken me through the itinerary and what to expect.
He even drove me there and paid for me to undergo the experience.
For all I knew, I was going in for a ‘squirting insanity’ at this Chinese owned parlor, run by beautiful women of Rwandan origin. I had never had a body massage before, so I was determined to ask as much as I could rather than drown in the new experience.
I was apprehensive as I came face to face with over 10 women lounging in the compound. They had this lazy and tired look; you imagined they were bored or the afternoon heat had taken its toll.
Like a lamb ready for slaughter, I merely gazed, not so sure what to do next until my senior colleague, paid sh30,000 for the services we were about to receive. When I peeped into the registration book, I saw that I was customer number 29, and it was 2:18pm.
I stood there waiting for directions, but none of the women seemed keen to get out of their siesta to attend to me. Did they see from a distance that I was bad business? It is after the Chinese boss at the reception shouted out that a one Sharon dragged her feet to attend to me.
“Follow me” she barked. My first shock was that the first three rooms, 111, 112, 114, she took me to were all engaged. We settled for room 120. It was a very neat self-contained room with a TV set. She stood there; arms clenched around her waist like a school matron watching over a child take a shower.
“Do you want the massage soft, hard or medium?” She asked in proper English, walking in a steady stride towards the low lying bed on which I lay facing down, a cloth covering my modesty.
The sleeves of her top were folded and she wore a micro-mini skirt. She contradicted her seductive outfit with a strong face and dark unwavering eyes. She even took time off to sip at a PET bottle of Bond 7 whisky, saying it was the only place she could do it away from the prying eyes of the bosses.
Intimidated and disarmed, I feared to say anything and never saw myself enduring an hour of massage.
However, as she went on with the massage barely saying a word, my heart sped up. I never insisted on anything although by the 30-minute mark, I resisted the temptation to beg as I rioted from within. Rather than utter any word, I simply groaned.
She has possibly dealt with hundreds like me and knows what to do under the circumstances. My embarrassment was quickly being pushed aside. So what if a stranger looked at my bare body? It’s not like I was the first.
I swallowed my pride and indignity and turned around to face her. The stern face had long gone. She now looked like something out of a stupid porn movie.
I looked at her eyes and a glint showed she had me hooked. She knew the script. “Be a gentleman,” she said as I started to fumble with a crazed and craving look.
Jumping on the bed and resisting the urge to shield the front of her bare crotch; she hovered above me, raised her skirt and sat inches from the blood infused organ, which couldn’t say no!
All the while, she smiled and swallowed back a gulp. Even in dreamland, I noticed her irregular breath. All I could muster was the word “Please”.
Like an expert, she traced all the sensitive parts causing my heart to fluster. Varied sensations settled in my stomach but more so my crotch, which whimpered for attention.
A tentative touch, then another and I found myself inadvertently accepting the sh150,000 fee she whispered to “take me to another world”.
She even arched her back in a reflex of pleasure, signaling her readiness by pulling a condom from her bra. She, however, stopped her ministration because I said I didn’t have any money!
Her countenance immediately changed. Since I had 10 minutes left to make a full hour, she ordered me to use that time to take a shower and leave.
I pleaded that I would pass by the ATM for the money but she would have none of it and sent me packing as she had heard that lie before!
After listening to a pep talk from one of my friends about want goes on behind the scenes at massage parlors, I decided to try it out. He told me of particular massage parlor in Bugolobi that would guarantee me stress-free sex.
In addition, he told me how at this particular parlor located in Bugolobi, even a shy me would have no issues negotiating for sex. In his script, the achingly beautiful masseuse would take me through a one-hour full body massage and depending on how I reacted to the massage, she would bring up the subject of sex and all I had to do was nod in approval.
I decide to visit the place on a Saturday. It is just a few meters off the road, a left turn after Hotel Bougainvillea. My first instinct was that it was an abandoned house. The atmosphere was quiet and serene. Only the yellow signpost told that it is a business premise.
I left my car outside the perimeter fencing and headed to the reception. A light-skinned slender lady of Rwandese descent advised me in fluent Luganda that it would be better if I parked within the compound. I hesitantly obliged.
At the reception I was told that the massage would cost me sh30,000. I was directed to a room and my first surprise was the low beds. In most parlors I have been to, beds are raised and the masseurs go about the job standing.
My second surprise was the fact that the room was self-contained and complete with a TV, probably to relax one further.
I took my shower and got to the bed for my massage and that is when I got surprise number three. No cloth to cover my privates! I opted to use the towel, only to see my masseuse for the day smile coyly at my shyness.
I got to know that she was called Eva and she was from Rwanda. We chatted in Luganda. She was quiet at first and when I asked her what the problem was but she kept it to herself. It is after I offered beer that she opened up. I spoke a smattering of Rwandese, so we started chatting. I was not impressed by the amateurish way she did the massage and told her so. This spurred her to action.
She massaged the parts near my privates and little “Johnny” began to riot. She refused to massage him, albeit my pleas.
Even the offer of a second beer did not move her. She then boldly told me it would cost sh100,000 for a “little Johnny massage” and sh200,000 for the sex of my life.
Breathless, I offered sh50, 000 which I stupidly directed her to pick from my trousers lying in a heap on the floor. She refused and insisted on sh75,000 for Johnny’s massage and sh150,000 for sex.
I went to the ATM in Bugolobi to pick the money but along the way, I saw no reason to drive back. I went home.
I narrated the ordeal to my colleagues who were so eager to venture. Among them, someone was actually willing to pay for me to go back. The following week, on a Friday, two colleagues and I went back.
I found that Eva had taken her day off, and my colleague got the masseuse I had long set my eyes on. She was full-bodied and had a tiny waistline that accentuated her large hips.
She was dressed in a micro-mini skirt.
I was a man on a mission, so I settled for whatever was left. We got a room just adjacent to a porch where a group of girls conversed outside. With the window open, their conversation was so loud it interrupted the session.
My masseuse, Shadia knew her job. I got chatty with her because she spoke passable Luganda. She did not listen when I insisted on being massaged with a cloth covering my loins and gave me a seductive stare when
“Jonny” did the Nazi salute. I resisted the urge to plead this time.
My trance was broken by two girls quarreling outside. Sheila and Latifa were engaged in a quarrel with Sheila assuring Latifa that although she is 24 years and having joined the business at 17, she has millions of shillings on her bank account. She boasts of attracting more corporate male clients who worship her and pay more. Irritated, I ordered Shadia to silence the bickering duo.
She teased me more as she massaged around my loins; at one point I felt like grabbing her and clasping her close. She pulled away, telling me to relax. She asked for sh200,000 like Eva. I only had sh50,000, but unlike Eva, Shadia was ‘sympathetic’ to my pleas and accepted my offer of sh70,000.
She went to the window and called out to one of her fellow masseuse called Shanita who gave her Condom O. She looked at me straight in the face and asked for the money.
What?? Can you blow sh70,000 in two minutes? Later, I realized it was the highest amount of money I have spent over such a short period of time.
I could not stop doing the arithmetic when I saw Shadia lead another male client for the routine. From my estimation, each girl can make up to sh1m on a good day for just a few minutes of giving men pleasure