Cape Verde: A Story of a Transgender Prostitute. [Part 1]

“Some of them really want you to fuck them. They really like it.”

He is talking about sex.

Anal sex.

Homosexual anal sex.

Homosexual anal sex with a transgender woman as the penetrator.

I stare across the restaurant at a group of men seated a few tables away. They are all white except one. The last one is Cape Verdean- a badiu1. He seems to be hanging around them so he can get money somehow. Either by being their ad hoc tour guide, or via some other means.

Apparently all every black person in this room is thinking about is how to get money from white people. Either by being their bartender, or by being their tour guide, or by sticking a penis into their rectum.

I have run out of annoyance at this obsequiousness.


A few hours earlier.

I am in a bus at Espargos2. It is a medium sized bus, not the much more capacious single-decker buses that seem to be the only ones in use in the U.S. or the parts of Europe I have been to. In spite of that, the seating is still comfortable. Unlike Nigeria, the capacity regulations of public transport buses are actually adhered to in Cape Verde.

Much later I would wonder why Sal (the island I am currently on) has none of these larger buses in their transport system. Santiago, a neighbouring island, does. Does it have to do with the difference in size of these islands? Population? Complexity of the road network? I would not have figured this out by the time I decide to write this story.

It is a sunny day. It is always a sunny day on the island of Sal. I think this is the day when a colleague of the bus driver takes a piece of local candy out of my hands without asking, and throws it into his mouth before I can say anything. I don’t know the Cape Verdean name for the candy. It is brown and somewhat flat- bumpy on the surface with a smooth underside. I really enjoy the nameless brown Cape Verdean candy.

I don’t really mind about the candy- It isn’t my last piece. If it was, I would definitely get into some sort of argument with the covetous man. Although I am pretty sure he wouldn’t even do that if it was my last piece. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t.

The bus is on the way to Santa Maria- an interesting urban hub at the southern end of the island. As I look around the bus, someone catches my attention.

The first thing that catches my eye is his lipstick.

He has black lipstick on. At the time of my writing this story I will try to remember his hairstyle without success. I am sure however, that it is interesting. In my perspective Cape Verdeans have very interesting hair. The Cape Verdean population is majorly a product of centuries of genetic intermingling between Africans and Europeans. Consequently, they have a combination of physical features that I find very interesting because they defy the learned mental templates I usually employ whenever I unconsciously attempt to understand, and possibly appreciate a black person’s face.

I suddenly find myself changing seats to be beside him. Questions begin to position themselves at the forefront of my mind.

“What is your story?”

“How do you identify yourself?”

“What is your perspective on the state of transgender rights activism here in Cape Verde? In places like San Francisco, there is a pretty formidable Pride movement, how would you describe the enthusiasm of the people here towards advancing awareness about the transgender phenomenon?”

Before I know it, we have begun to converse.


Is this your new wife?

I laugh out loud. The question comes from a friend of one of my Senegalese neighbours. He is somewhat tall with hunched shoulders. His teeth are sparse and very brown. I do not know much about him, save that he has a very resonant voice and that he is always talking excitedly about New York in the Wolof3 language.

“Hahaha no, he is not. No he is not.” I reply.

I am referring to the trans-woman walking alongside me on the street. We haven’t yet discussed what pronoun he would most prefer being referred to by. He does not seem to mind being referred to as a “he” though.

A question pops up in my mind about something we discussed in the bus.

[End of Part 1]

This post is one in a Series. A list of all of the posts in this Series can be accessed here.

1. badiu – A name to denote the dark-skinned fraction of the Cape Verdean population.

2. Espargos – A city located around the centre of the island of Sal in Cape Verde.

3. Wolof – The lingua franca of the Senegalese people.

Image Credits: (Image has no actual association with the story save the striking lipstick)

5 thoughts on “Cape Verde: A Story of a Transgender Prostitute. [Part 1]

    1. Hahaha thanks for your comment Ebun.

      It was a guy who perceived himself as a female, and consequently was dressing like one. Transgender women (or trans women) are generally biological males who feel like they identify more with the female gender and so modify their behaviors and outward appearance to be more feminine.


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