Opinion: In Defence of Old White Women!
It was a nice, warm and sunshiny day as I stepped out of my door onto Notting Hill’s crowded Portobello Road W11 and whistled my merry way amongst the Carnival crowd. As I approached the area where my Jamaican brethren were gathered, the brother with a wife and compound in Lamin greeted me and said: “Have you seen the piece about The Gambia and old white women in the Daily Telegraph?” “Nope”, I answer, “but I will look it up”. And so I went and looked it up and found it on the Telegraph website, on The Gambia’s Standard Newspaper website and on the Fatu network website where someone said it was also on CNN!
Minister Hamat Bah suggests the birds on the trees, not the birds in Jokos!
No one is actually accusing the white older ladies of breaking any laws by going to The Gambia for perfectly consensual sex between consenting adults. The Gambia’s Director of Tourism, Mr. Abubacarr S. Camara, is quoted as follows:-“What we want is quality tourists, tourists that come to enjoy the country and the culture, but not tourists that come just for sex.” And the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Hamat Bah is quoted as saying: “The Gambia wanted to shift the focus away from nightlife to nature. The Gambia has over 300 different species of tropical birds”. It is a perfectly understanding wish by the Minister and his Director of Tourism to prevent the country getting a reputation as a “sex tourism” destination but, as the old saying goes, "beggars can't be choosers"!
Can “Sex Tourism” be policed at all?
I have to say from the comments on Fatunetwork that 90% of the readers are against the Director’s and Minister’s “attack” on the “White Old Ladies”. The biggest support for the “White Old Laides” came from the Tourist Taxi Drivers President who put it bluntly when he said: “Old Tourist Ladies Improve Our Source Of Income and Living Conditions”. Most of the comments agreed and many even mentioned the development work that many of these “White Old Ladies” undertake to improve the lives of Gambians. As Thailand, Philipines, Spain and even Morrocco have found out, it is not possible to police a “sex tourism ban” in a free and democratic country. Gambian youth over the age of 18 have a legal right to associate with whoever they want ... even a “White Old Lady” aged 81! As far as I know, neither is the 81-year-old “White Old Lady” breaking any Gambian law as long as her young man is aged 18 or above. Many years ago Morocco passed a law which outlawed the casual association of a Moroccan and a tourist in hotel bedrooms. That would be a good law, but the key word is “casual”: if they are a couple, married or not, I don’t think they would be breaking any law by sharing a hotel room. By the way, I think Gambian hotels do also discourage such “casual” associations for sex in hotel rooms ... unless the Duty Night Manager has been handsomely bribed by the guest!
Who exactly is harming Gambia’s reputation in the Western media?
It is ironic, but each time the Minister and his officials make statements against “sex tourism”, it actually plants in the minds of readers that The Gambia IS a “sex tourist destination”! In that sense it could be said that the Minister and his officials are publicizing “sex tourism” in The Gambia each time they talk about it. Actual “sex tourists” will be encouraged to come by the publicity ... whereas those who abhor “sex tourism” will actually be encouraged to stay away! So the Minister and his officials will actually achieve the opposite of what they intended, and, what’s more, it is actually almost impossible to stop “sex tourism” as long as you have tourism ... unless you are Iran or Saudi Arabia and you have so much petrodollars that you can chase away Western tourists and their money. If you are The Gambia and 20% of GDP depends on Western Tourism, you have to take the good with the bad (though not the outright illegal!).
So please leave the “White Old Women” tourists alone. As the Tourist Taxi Drivers President said: “Old Tourist Ladies Improve Our Source Of Income and Living Conditions”.
PS: What about “White Old Men” tourists? Surely some sex discrimination here! For fellow Africans, my age and well educated, we remember the Nigerian author Cyprian Ekwensi’s 1970s novel “Jagua Nana”, where the hot and old Lagos Madam by the name of Jagua Nana was fond of devouring young men!
Notting Hill, London.