Data (In %) Based On Study By Fawole and Dagunduro, Conducted In Abuja.
Source: Olufunmilayo Fawole and Abosede Dagunduro, 2014. Research paper here.
In a survey on 305 female sex workers (results illustrated above) in Abuja, Fawole and Dagunduro found a link between socioeconomic factors and motives for engaging in the Nigerian sex industry. What is actually more gripping is the fact that 74.7 percent had at least started secondary education. In this study and another conducted in Lagos in 1990, unemployment and financial limitations, and broken homes (50 percent) and poverty (18.67 percent), were respectively noted. Exogenous factors as a precept for sex work? This, I understand.
Notwithstanding, I do question (amicably, too) the proposition that “for them [Adenle referring to sex workers in Easy Motion Tourist], prostitution was not a choice, […] [but] a lack of choice.” That is, “they had all been forced into that life when the ran out of choices.” Florentine, who had previously been taken care of by her aunt, however deliberately substitutes this for independence. This, in line with Chika Unigwe’s On Black Sisters’ Street’s Sisi, alludes to an element of choice, however marginal, in prostitution.
Another assumption tied to ‘choice’ is the argument that women previously assaulted are subservient and more susceptible to selling their bodies. Not only does this study negate this argument by showing that only 20 percent of sex workers had previously been raped, Amaka - who was sexually assaulted at young age - is depicted to have made a decision in selecting her line of business. One could however argue that Amaka - unlike the other ladies and Aunty Baby - was ‘shielded’ by wealth and education, and thus, cannot be compared.
This, in no way, subtracts from the sheer brilliance of Adenle’s Easy Motion Tourist. The truth is: walking a quarter a mile in their shoes could drastically change one’s perspective. I appreciate the author’s argument and even more, the fact that he makes each character so real. He shows that Knock Out, Chief Amadi, ‘Rose’ and Chief Ojo are among us, and the reality of Nigeria’s underground economy, which we ignore. We, however, probably seldom hear about them in-house, unless they sip through the crack, and into the arms of international media.
In this sense, the reader is exposed to the tug of war between power and justice. One in which virtue is punished and viciousness is rewarded; integrity is awarded with early retirement, whereas those who are to protect are the backbones to those who devour the country. This poetic injustice is subtly noted amid the author’s kind portrayal of a highly effective Nigerian Police Force, intelligence unit and responsive intensive care unit — the three of which Nigerians long for.
Oh, if only Adenle’s words were horses, pigs would fly!
My letter to the author.
The end of Easy Motion Tourist left me very uneasy. Simply: I could not believe Adenle’s guts. He took my emotions by full force, and had my heart racing through the last pages, only to toss all, with reckless abandon, into further suspense. I no longer had a reason to bombard my read buddy with excitement at 2am, nor a good enough reason to jump out of sleep at 4am to read. What I was left with was an emptiness and a need for closure on the love affair we shared over 327 pages of crime fiction.
Though I have largely focused on the discourse on choice and the lack of it in prostitution, this does not change the fact that Easy Motion Tourist is easily one of my favourite reads, so far, this year! The palpitation that followed the twists were unbearable — especially from chapter 50! This book, I tell you, is guaranteed to leave one heart broken, with heart-in-mouth, or both. I, however, take joy in knowing that my healing is coming in its sequel - When Trouble Sleeps - in 2018. This makes the book an exception to “the rule” - that is, an ‘ex’ worthy of reconciliation.
Dear Leye Adenle,
You were made for this - do not stop.