Nadia (not real name) is a third year student at COSTECH. When she joined university, she stayed in a low cost hostel commonly known as “Dusaidi” with her mind focused on school to study hard, graduate, get a nice job and generally live her dream.
But two years down the road, Nadia is not the girl who came from the village with a 2-inch mattress, a plastic bag and a university admission letter. She now lives a life of Champagne laced by luxuries. She lives in a well furnished apartment in the leafy suburbs of Kigali and drives a Vitz.
Her source of this luxury is a man in his mid 40s, who drives a Benz in the latest series. Nadia has kept the source of his gifts and luxury under the wraps.
She tells her friends that the old man is her uncle, but to her friends she doesn’t relate to him like a relative.
They believe it’s the sugar daddy financing Nadia’s expensive lifestyle.
Nadia holds an iPhone 6 and has a unique home theatre in her fully furnished apartment. She spent two weeks of the school holiday away with her “family” but the pictures on her phone suggested it was just her and the person behind the camera.
Like Nadia, many campus girls within and around Kigali are going for sugar-daddies to finance their lavish lifestyle. It is a common perception that most university girls live a lavish lifestyle.
Their rooms are littered with the latest electronic gadgets; they put on the trendiest clothes and own expensive phones although few are employed.
What needs do these girls have?
You will be surprised what the needs of these girls are, says Maria Gatabazi, the former social affairs minister at National University of Rwanda.
“There is a strange urge for female students to feel like being at campus comes with a certain status and lifestyle. They want to quickly transition from being the innocent high school girl to the sexy trendy campus girl and will do anything to achieve that status. Being a campus girl means holding a nice bag, wearing a nice fragrance, changing clothes often and definitely holding a nice phone,” Gatabazi says.
All these goodies sometimes can’t be asked from one’s parents so they easily get them from older men in exchange for sex.
However, it is very rare that a girl will sleep with a man to get tuition, Gatabazi said. It isn’t something she has heard of.
“These girls have perfected the art of keeping their Sugar Daddies away from the prying eye of the public. Sometimes someone can have one all through campus and people will never know, even her roommates.”
Gatabazi cautions male students who are in relationships to be keener or the type of girl friend they are dating. Some female university students have three boyfriends: one for marks, one for money, and one for love. This trend has grown over the past three years, based on the drastic increase in the number of female students at university gaining sudden wealth, among other things.
When the sugar daddy romance goes sour
There are situations that will cause a storm, like when the girl gets pregnant, when she starts demanding for more time, when she wants to end the relationship or when she starts cheating with another rich man or young boy and the man finds out.
According to a reliable source, Peace (not real name) got pregnant just before her final year exams at a top university in Kigali and people didn’t even know she had a sugar daddy. The boyfriend who used to help her read for exams found out and left her immediately and within a week, she had lost her apartment and flashy gadgets. She also lost many of her friends and finally dropped out of school because of shame.There is little about what she is doing now.
“My roommate used to get physically abused a number of times by this man she used to date but she never gave up and still went back,” says Lucie Kamanzi, a student at University of Rwanda’s School of Finance and Banking.
“I tried to talk her into leaving the relationship and it was after one year that she realised it wasn’t worth it. The guy would beat her all the time and she would come crying to me but stayed with him because of the goodies he gave her,” Kamanzi says.
For Faith, she used to date men for anything, after a 7-month-affair with a man for money; she fell in love with him, left school and went upcountry to stay with him as he had promised to marry her. She later found out he had a wife and two children whom he had always called his nieces.
“I was shocked to find out it was a lie. I left school for nothing and now, I don’t trust any man,” she said.
What do parents think?
Francois Ntare, an engineer and parent of two university girls, says it is all about upbringing.
“These men lure these girls using very cheap gifts that cost them their dignity and sometimes even life. University isn’t a dumping place for sugar daddies to pick girls. Send them to university but keep a close eye on them and have real conversations about these things,” Ntare says.
He adds that students who are close to their parents and have truthful conversations with them are less likely to be involved in such acts.
Joyce Kirabo, a counselor and parent, says the cause of this vice should be addressed as opposed to talking a lot about the problem.
“These girls are driven towards the lies of these cunning men because they feel like they are missing that intimacy and love from their parents and it is easily filled with cheap gifts from sugar daddies,” she says.
She goes ahead to say that if she encountered this as a parent, she would sit her daughter down and openly talk about it. She would also find out what the girl needs and try to provide what she can, with hope that the girl won’t go looking for them elsewhere.