Kenya Prison Homosexuality (1969)

Few commented on the loss of heterosexual relationships. It did not appear to be a major problem of adjustment since within the prison they were not exposed to, nor did they read in their life outside to, visual erotic stimuli. There were few, if any, pin-ups or treasured photographs, and indeed only one case of pornography was known to the staff. The majority made an easy adjustment by the mere fact of the absence of women, although outside they had exclusively heterosexual relationships. In effects problems of adjustment were assisted by nocturnal emission, rather than by masturbation. A few succeeded in obtaining women during the course of outside work. The majority could understand but not tolerate homosexuality in others, and they constantly referred to the practice in admonitory terms, often trying to report physical acts to the warders.

He adopted an [sic] human behaviour of playing homosexual intercourse with the younger convicts. This made him to be disliked nearly by every convict. His life in the prison became tougher and could not be associated with anybody with understanding. There are rumors of his evil doings.

A few made quasi-normal adjustments by adopting homosexual practices while in prison in order to get material advantages in the form of extra food or tobacco for consumption or trade. A further group entered the prison with homosexual traits already in existence and provided a service for the previous group; they were mainly Arabs or Somalis. They were not usually identifiable by ways of dressing or mannerisms. The majority of all fights were over what prisoners call theirs ‘wives’.

He uses much ingenuity to steal the extra food or to make the necessary secret tradings with the cooks to get out extras. He eats this extra food with a certain young man who he has established as his wife. The others who sleep in the same dormitory cell say that he tells the young man that he will have no troubles during his sentence while the old man is there.

He doesn’t like to work with his hands. He likes to sit and get his work done by another. He likes to be clean. He doesn’t like to talk to anyone else except the man who does his work for him. The man’s body has changed to look like a woman’s. He likes very much sweet things and that other man brings him sugar from his monthly canteen purchase even though he could buy it from his own money. He is like a small child as even a woman makes an effort to work with her hands. These are his habits only in prison. All the time he uses his eyes to glance about like a woman and even his voice has gone high to sound like a woman.

Ralph E.S. Tanner, “The East African Experience of Imprisonment,” 1969