katika peruzi hapa na pale mtandaoni nakutana na hii kitu It is Saturday evening and this writer and a friend decide to go out for a beer. We choose the Q-Bar in Msasani, which comes highly recommended for its live music. The bar is packed with revellers from all walks of life. We sit at a corner and chat as we wait for our drinks. After a while, a mixed race couple catches our attention. Beauty and the beast? She is a blonde mzungu aged around 30, looking like she weighs almost 200 kilos. Back home in Germany, she would be considered ugly. Her escort, a beefy, dreadlocked Tanzanian in his early 20s, obviously doesnt mind. He kisses and hugs her repeatedly and it is obvious that both are aglow with happiness. Is it real love? My friend and I wonder. Is he trying to make her fall in love to benefit from her wealth? Did she pay him to be her date? In recent years, Tanzania has become more popular as a tourist destination and the number of sex tourists has also risen. Sex tourists frequently visit Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Moshi. Most of these mzungu women do not meet European standards of beauty, and many of them are severely overweight. Back home, it is likely that they would have problems finding a boyfriend or husband due to their weight. But it is different in Tanzania where men prefer women with curves, as it is a sign of wealth and health. In addition, there are quite a number of Tanzanian men who dream of marrying a mzungu to escape poverty. I dont care if she is stupid or ugly, a taxi driver once told me. I just want to settle in a country like Sweden or Germany to start a better life. Some mzungu women accept this scenario because from the exchange, they get what could pass for love, and of course, sex. In these couplings of convenience, both parties are happy but for different reasons. Marie*, a 21-year-old from Germany says she fell in love with Hamisi*, a 32-year-old safari guide from Moshi. She is happy that she finally found love. I never had a boyfriend in Germany. Men didnt like me back home because of my weight. Marie weighs 110 kilos and has suffered from depression and self-esteem issues since she was a teenager. But things changed when she came to Tanzania. Marie and Hamisi met at the La Liga Club in Moshi. As soon as I saw her I knew she was the one. I have never seen such a beauty in my life! Hans says. When I am with him I feel like a queen, Marie says. He made me feel beautiful and desirable for the first time in my life. Before Hamisi, she had never met a guy before who showered her with so many compliments. The couple is planning to get married and settle in Germany. I asked my father to offer Hamisi a job at his company, Marie says. Women like Marie are easy targets because of their lust for love. The way these guys seduce you makes it so hard for a sexually active woman to say no, says Jane*, a 58-year-old British widow that this writer met at the Sea Cliff hotel in Masaki. Jane* visits Tanzania three times a year to visit her Tanzanian boyfriend. He is 21. She knows that it would not be as easy for a woman her age to find such a young boyfriend in Britain. According to Jane*, its not all about love. I met a woman who told me that she is just visiting Tanzania to get good sex and nothing else. And I can understand where she is coming from. Reports show that women from Europe, especially Italians and Dutch women, frequently fly to East Africa on sex tourism missions. When beach boys see a single female tourist, they approach and ask for money in exchange of sex. When tourists approach these boys, sex for cash exchanges occur too, a hotel manager in Bagamoyo told this writer. At the Steers fast food restaurant in Dar es Salaam, this writer met another mixed race couple. The woman, Simone*, is a 52-year-old retiree from Denmark. The man called himself Johnny and kept his age a secret. He didnt look a day over 20. When I asked them if they are a couple, they confirmed my suspicions. Yes! And we are planning to get married! Simone said. It costs her $1,500 to spend two weeks with her Tanzanian boyfriend because she pays for everything - hotels, food, drinks and gifts. Anne* from De Haag in the Netherlands, who this writer met in Dar es Salaam, cant wait to fly back to Zanzibar. The 63-years-old widow comes to Tanzania three times a year. Officially, she comes on safari tours that take her to the beautiful Serengeti and the Ngorogoro Crater but the truth is, Anne* is a sex tourist. She comes to Tanzania to visit her lover, a young and good-looking Tanzanian who spoils her at the beach, at the bar and in bed. Anne* doesnt want to discuss his name or age but she loves to talk about her cross-continental trips to see him. It is so much fun. It is exciting when you are desired even at my age, she says. She refuses to view her relationship as a form of prostitution. He has fun too. We are just having a good time together. Whats wrong if I pay him a little money? she asks. Women like Anne* drive the booming Tanzanian sex industry. While European men prefer Thailand, Cambodia or Indonesia for their own sexual adventure, European women come to Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ghana and Gambia. Accurate statistics on female sex tourism are not readily available but researchers estimate that at least 20 per cent of female tourists will seek sex from underage boys. Nowadays, sex tourism is not just about old men going to Asia to search for young girls. More and more elderly women from Western countries do the same in African countries like Tanzania. Often, these women also share a bed with an underage boy. It is definitely a new trend, says Theo von Noten from Defence for Children, an international organisation that advocates against the sexual exploitation of children. He differentiates between two kinds of female sex tourists. The first type travel to Tanzania for sex. The others didnt plan it, but then get seduced. Many female tourists unintentionally fall in love with their safari guides, says von Noten. According to him, most sex tourists are Dutch. Anne* confesses that she never uses condoms even though she knows that her lover has sex with other women. He doesnt like condoms and so we dont use them, she says. The 63-year-old is even thinking about taking him to her hometown, Den Haag, to marry him, but her friend Evelyn*, 58, who has a lover in Kenya, has advised against it. Be careful, she has said to Anne*, he just wants your money. But Anne wants more. Since my husband died, I often feel very lonely. I want my African boyfriend to be around all the time. I love him and he loves me!