Cost of cheating: How much Kenyan men waste on mpangos


Besides alcohol and church businesses, infidelity is the fastest growing business in town.

There is a clip doing rounds on Facebook, where a woman is seen embarrassing her husband for being unfaithful. The woman is seen throwing a tantrum, announcing to all and sundry that her husband is not only unfaithful, but irresponsible.

She parrots how despite denying her money for her new hairstyle, she found lodging receipts in his shirt pocket during laundry, an indication that he has been up to no good, even as he claimed to be broke.

What the woman didn’t know, is that she is not alone. Truth is, while Kenyans are busy building the nation during the day, there is always bunch of randy types who, in response to President Uhuru’s rallying call for a working nation, are sweating it out in lodgings, imbibing illicit love at great financial cost.

They may say love is free, but making love costs an arm and a leg, especially if you are a man and the affair is illicit. No wonder, as Crazy Monday has discovered, besides alcohol and church businesses, infidelity is the fastest growing business in town.

Clyde Angira, an accountant with an audit firm, says the ‘infidelity industry’ thrives countrywide and “the biggest beneficiaries are hotels, bar and restaurant owners and taxi drivers.”

A manager at a hotel in Nairobi’s Hurligham estate says business was so good, she stopped charging hotel rooms per day, but instead charges per hour.

“My clients don’t stay the whole night. These are married men and women who want to go back to their offices or homes. I even have repeat clients who call to book in advance. It makes me mad when I have to turn some away because rooms are fully booked,” she says.

Her ‘hotel’ has 14 rooms and she charges Sh1,500 per hour. On a bad day, when she has only four clients per room, she goes home with Sh84,000. Little wonder she is now building a bigger hotel.

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“Most men have huge egos. They will pay for two hours ‘knowing’ they will be busy for every minute of the two hours, but only stay for forty minutes or so. Of course, they would never ask for a refund because they are embarrassed! My assistants quickly change the sheets and another man gets the room,” she says.

So high is the demand for rooms that on Friday nights, and nearly the whole of Saturday, especially at the end of the month, a client can visit up to five guesthouses without finding space. All are fully booked.

But getting a woman to that room for a five-minute romp is merely the culmination of a series of expenditure. If he is lucky, she could be a simple girl who won’t object to a meal at ‘a quiet place’ where the man is sure not to bump into his wife’s friends or a familiar face.

This means it has to be in the outskirts of the city. A meal at such place, say chicken stew and ugali, will cost between Sh500-1000 per plate.  The food will be washed down with fresh juice or soda bringing the bill to about Sh1,500.

Many couples, however, feel shy about ducking into a hotel room while sober, so the two will enjoy a few bottles of their favourite alcoholic beverage, hammering a further Sh2,000 dent in the man’s wallet.

The game changes when you don’t date a mere girl, but a ‘lady’. A lady doesn’t drink beer, my friend, she wines; she doesn’t eat out, she dines.

Added to the cost of paying for a two-hour session at the hotel, the man will, therefore, spend a minimum of Sh5,000 for a few minutes of illicit love, assuming he doesn’t slip her Sh1,000 for ‘bus fare’.

But the game changes when you don’t date a mere girl, but a ‘lady’. A lady doesn’t drink beer, my friend, she wines; she doesn’t eat out, she dines.

A cheap bottle of Chilean wine will cost Sh3,000 at a city restaurant. For starters, she will eat honey glazed onion rings with sweet Vidalia onions, deep fried in beer and butter and glazed with rosemary and honey (probably just onion soup).

For the main course, she will eat grilled pork tenderloin with steamed jasmine rice, red Thai curry glaze and coriander emulsion (simply pork and rice).  By the time she is done dining and wining, the bill will be about Sh7,000.

Of course, her image will suffer terribly if she is spotted entering at a humble self-contained room at Karumaindo Bar and Restaurant.

So an out of town Villa Inn it is, where they charge  Sh4,200 per night, regardless of whether you are through with your business in ten minutes or hit the mattress snoring in your shoes.

She is also the type of woman that you won’t ask: “Which bus stage can I drop you at?” No! She was picked from her house in a cab, and she will go back to her house in a cab, for which, of course, you will fork out Sh3,000, to and fro.

Assuming you are a stingy man and give her no ‘bus fare’ for a job well done, the total bill comes to Sh14,000, enough to buy a heifer, a gigantic bed or enough iron sheets for a poor, homeless widow. And she won’t even turn up with a free condom in her purse and will still expect you to call her the next day! These girl!

It is no cheaper for the average Joe who must still buy half a kilo of roast meat in a dingy pub, ply his date with beer before vanishing into the ‘rooms’ behind the bar. And that is assuming she doesn’t turn up with three of her best friends who guzzle booze by the barrel in the name of ‘gouging if you are suitable for their pal’.

So lucrative is infidelity that Kimani, a real estate developer, says he is considering getting into the guesthouse and lodging business.

“Conventional wisdom has it that the easiest way to make money in real estate is to build high rise flats in populated areas, target the middle class and get paid rent at the end of the month for a lifetime,” says Kimani.

But hear he argues that it takes upwards of five years to recover the costs incurred in building a 40-house apartment charging a monthly rent of Sh10,000 per house.

“Now imagine if I built 40 rooms, which would cost less anyway, turn it into a guesthouse for middle class infidelity escapades and charge Sh1,000 per hour. Even on 50 per cent occupancy, I would still net at least Sh20,000 per day. In a year, I would have recouped my building costs and have several millions in the bank! And you know the best part? Unlike tenants, lovers pay at the door,” says Kimani.

Angira, the keen accountant, says so prohibitive is the cost of infidelity that if you’re an average Kenyan man, married with children in school, who earns between Sh6,700 minimum salary and Sh100,000 monthly, you simply don’t have the financial muscle to cheat on your wife without neglecting family responsibilities.

“All these men you see sneaking into cheap hourly rate hotels have no money. They are just squeezing money from the children’s school fees and the wife’s kitchen budget.”

This explains why some men would rather deal with prostitutes, who are not fussy about where they are taken and who levy a direct charge, meaning a romp ends up costing Sh300 or less, in the car or a bush!

“All these men you see sneaking into cheap hourly rate hotels have no money. They are just squeezing money from the children’s school fees and the wife’s kitchen budget,” says Anne Muse, a 25-year-old office administrator.

She sends a stern warning to fellow women: “A married man who will take you to a cheap hotel wants to have fun, but he can’t afford it. As you spend the little money he has, probably his wife and children make do without necessities.”

No wonder many men can only afford one illicit fling a month, mostly on payday or immediately after and if truth be told, they start regretting even before the romp is over.

While their girlfriends have this afterglow that lasts days, the man wakes up the next morning in a foul mood; angry wife, a note from the headmaster about outstanding fees, a nastier one from the landlord, not to mention that the cooking gas has run out.

Yet he blew Sh6,000 the previous night on a miserable 30 seconds of sexual bliss! Girls! That is why that man won’t call or reply your texts – till the next pay check is around the corner.


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