Partner swapping, the latest craze in Kenya

imagesAs a new year filled with political fireworks dawns, GARDY CHACHA delves on ‘swinging’ or ‘partner swapping’ — the latest assault on the traditional Kenyan family

An obsession for wild sexual excitement is driving some married couples to experiment in thrills that would shock their parents and pastors to death.

When a woman called a radio breakfast show recently to complain that her husband liked ‘watching’ her with other men — some of them her friends and others that he introduced to her — listeners were shocked.

One male caller said his girlfriend had requested him to allow her to bring six men home for her birthday, but what astounded the show’s host, a man who has probably heard it all, was that he was ‘considering it’.

Threesomes and foursomes have come to town. Whereas, for many couples, cheating is the one reason that would break them asunder, a group of Kenyans who not only allow their spouses to sleep with other people but also actively participate in the ‘festivities’ have emerged.

In what is yet another frontal assault on the already fragile institution of marriage, Joseph, a frequent party hopper in Nairobi’s upper class night joints, admits that marriage is only a ritual to satisfy calls from parents whose perceptions are still rooted in tradition.

“My marriage has become a process of executing marital duties,” he laments. “If I were to choose how to live this life, marriage wouldn’t be part of it.”

Necessary evils

Joseph adds that if marriages were to work out, then the act of sex would’ve to be re-evaluated so that it incorporates the ‘necessary evils’ that would make it more exciting. His marriage has gone silent and degenerated into a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ arrangement.

“I’m not the only one. Some of my friends, who are already committed in marriage, engaged or in relationships, have negotiated with their partners to have additional sexual or romantic relationships provided that no one asks about them,” Joseph says bluntly, “to avoid the emotional issues, jealousy and unnecessary strife inherent in monogamous relationships.”


For Lucy, a married woman who is bisexual, sex — like many things in life — has undergone evolution and ‘missionary’ is no longer enough.

She says: “From a woman’s perspective, men have become complacent in the bedroom. They are no longer creative. They treat sex like a favour to their wives. But the modern woman needs some exhilarating and passionate experiences; that’s why I feel like my lesbian groupies are more satisfying than what my husband provides in bed.”

Men too, have complains of what marriage has become. Antony offers that many married women are too traditional and laid back when it comes to the bedroom.

“There are a whole lot of new things to try out, but my wife says she cannot allow them because she is not a ‘prostitute’. She is still shackled onto the traditional missionary position, which bores me stiff,” says Antony.

Josephine, a young graduate now married for two years, agrees that the quality of sex — especially in marriage — has assumed greater importance.

She says, “Initially, the side dishes were associated with many tumbling marriages. They’ve been bashed and viewed upon with righteous condemnation. But now, some married couples are looking for ways of spicing up their sex lives in more open and agreeable ways.”

Josephine adds that though her marriage has not reached the threshold yet, she can’t rule out the possibilities of adopting liberal methods to live and enjoy life to the fullest.


It turns out that when some couples realise their sex lives have gone into static mode after several months of bliss, those with ‘open minds’ opt for a rather unorthodox style of living; one where they swap partners or engage in a sequel of sexual activities involving more than two people.

Though newly married and yet to have a child, Paul and Irene Muchomba are thinking of swapping with like-minded couples. To Irene, when they get a willing couple, she won’t have to worry about her husband cheating on her since he won’t have to hide.

She too, gets to have new experiences with her husband’s full knowledge. It might appear less of cheating seeing that both partners are involved, but still the solemn vows of marriage are broken in the process, albeit openly.

Henry, who ironically is a strict churchgoer, says that cheating has attained the legal status among many couples.

“We discussed with my wife about enjoying our sex lives with others,” he says, “so that we don’t run out of steam. We realised that the mixture of tension and sweetness had run out of our bedroom, and so we thought of including other willing friends to spice each other’s lives.”

But all these happen without emotional attachment. Essentially, you remain friends at a superficial level, but below the veil of that casual friendship is palpable tension of sexual desires.

Henry talks of couples having threesomes, foursomes — the ‘somes’ go on and on. He explains: “The threesome happens when we invite one of our friends to come and have fun with us. She gets to see me with someone else and I get to see her with someone else too. The whole thing has brought a new sparkle not only to our sex life but our marriage as well.”

The act of husband and wife enjoying a normal bedroom routine seems to have lost spark and many are looking for it with zeal and strife. Anne Kariuki, who got married about three years ago began by sleeping with the man who was best man at their wedding.

When her husband discovered, instead of acting like a blighted lover, he came out of the closet himself and lay bare what he did in the many nights of business assignments.

“He confessed of his night escapades of one night stands and visits to brothels and sex parties nuanced with overtures of sexual glory,” she says.

“We realised we deeply wanted to be with each other but we loved being with other people, too, apart from the boredom we had in the bedroom. We now coalesce with friendly partners when we need to catch real thrill,” she revealed.


So move over beer parties — sex parties are here! Yes! At these parties, organised in the suburban villas and mansions of Nairobi, Anne’s husband would meet gatherings where sexual activity between those who attend would be the main agenda.

From penetrative sex known as “full swap” to subtle sexual innuendo or “half swap” involving non-penetrative sex, what these parties provide is an ambience for wild sexual drives.

“New couples usually start with half swap before they develop the guts for full swap,” Anne offers.

“The swinging and swapping is not because we are promiscuous.  We also do soft swings where a couple could be performing sex acts while another watches in anticipation,” she adds.


According to experts, swinging arose “from the upsurge in sexual activity during the sexual revolution of the 1960s, made possible by the invention of the contraceptive pill and treatments for many of the sexually transmitted diseases that were known at that time”.

Group sex, which in the United States is also called adult buffet, involves consenting adults arranging for intense sex sessions.

While in the US group sex would take place at nude beaches or at outdoor events or nightclubs, in Nairobi, it is taking place in clandestine locations, including homes, hotel rooms, or private clubs that are only a preserve of the rich.

While non-monogamous sex is taboo in African societies and illegal in many governments, the world of information technology — Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social media — has made organised orgies, threesomes and foursomes, easily accessible.

What the future holds is anybody’s guess.






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