You can tell more about a country from the inmates in its jails, than those in its universities – Prof Irwin Edman in Philosopher’s Holiday.

Half of the male inmates have sexual partners in Kenyan prisons, a former jailbird reveals.

Daniel Mwangi was sentenced to death by Embu Magistrate’s Court for robbery with violence in 2012, but got released two years later after the Court of Appeal set him free.

Mwangi, now saved, had been a crook since he was seven, and was thrown behind bars seven times.

The Form Two dropout has seen plenty, including witnessing firsthand, how prisoners bid for new inmates with the highest bidder turning the ‘newbie’ into a wife.

“There is a prisoner in charge of allocating sleeping quarters to new inmates. So, when you come in as first-timer in prison and still in the holding area, the prisoners in charge, we call them ‘Overall,’ will be bribed with amounts ranging from Sh300 to Sh500.

Whoever pays the highest amount will have the new prisoner assigned to his cell. The preference is usually young, ‘yellow-yellow,’ plump men who are in prison for the first time.

“When you get to the cell, which is usually full, your ‘husband’ will let you share his mattress, food and cigarettes. But come night, you will have to pay back.”

Mwangi says homosexuality is widespread in prison and the moneyed can have up to six or seven ‘wives’

“In prison, money is everything. If you have money, you can buy the best food. As others feed on beans and ugali, and you can be feasting on chicken and chapatis. Many new inmates not used to prison food will initially not take it.

They will readily take up the offer for more palatable meals offered by influential prisoners, only to end up as ‘wives’ for more favours,” says Mwangi.

He estimates that in all the prisons he has been in, almost half the population are in homosexual relationships.

“When I was in Kamiti, I saw men who were selling themselves to fellow prisoners. They had different price ranges. Some offered themselves for as little as two sticks of cigarettes, while the pricey ones would charge about Sh500 for their services,” Mwangi revealed.

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