Mjolo

Inside Zimbabwe’s underground market for lula lula toys

IN the dimly lit corners of Zimbabwe’s bustling cities, a clandestine trade thrives, hidden from the prying eyes of authorities and conservative societal norms.

Online foras and discreet messaging channels serve as the virtual marketplaces for a forbidden commodity: adult toys.

Part of Zimbabwe’s censorship and entertainment control law makes the importation or possession of ƨǝx toys illegal as they are deemed “indecent” or “obscene” and harmful to public morals.

Behind the veils of secrecy, suppliers peddle pleasure to a willing clientele, while women’s organisations fight tirelessly for the legalisation of these intimate products.

In recent years, Zimbabwe has witnessed a significant rise in the availability and consumption of adult toys.

Once considered taboo, these intimate products are now gaining popularity across various demographics, sparking conversations about cultural shifts, societal attitudes and personal preferences.

Ayanda Unity Mponda found herself on the wrong side of the law for allegedly selling ƨǝx toys.

Mponda was initially jailed for 24 months before six months of the jail term were suspended on the condition that she does not commit a similar offence within the next five years.

The remaining 16 months were suspended on condition that she performs community service.

She used social media platforms to market her products.

She was convicted for violating the Custom and Excise Act and exposing children to pornographic material.

In 2016, the daughter of Zimbabwean tycoon Phillip Chiyangwa, Stephanie, returned home from the UK and sold ƨǝx toys.

She was arrested but never tried.

Investigations by NewsDay Weekender showed that the internet has become the marketplace for the forbidden products.

Fearing arrest, many have resorted to platforms such as tengesai.com and @harareadulttoys to sell the ƨǝx toys.

Through encrypted messaging platforms and discreet online foras, suppliers lure inquisitive consumers with promises of heightened sensations and unbridled ecstasy.

Product listings, shrouded in euphemism and innuendo, offer a tantalising glimpse into a world of forbidden pleasure.

From vibrators to bondage gear, the offerings are as diverse as the desires they seek to fulfil.

“I stumbled upon these online stores by chance, out of curiosity more than anything else,” confesses Tariro, a young professional from Harare.

“The idea of exploring my ƨǝxuality in a discreet and private manner was appealing. It felt like taking control of my own pleasure.”

Behind the veil of the internet lies a complex network of smuggling routes, importing adult toys into Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries.

Border crossings, often porous and poorly monitored, serve as entry points for contraband goods, including these taboo products of desire.

From South Africa to Zambia, suppliers navigate a labyrinth of checkpoints and customs inspections, their cargo concealed within innocuous shipments of everyday goods.

“We operate in the shadows, always on the lookout for new routes and methods to evade detection. It’s a risky business, but the demand is relentless. People want what we offer, and we are here to provide it.”

At Beitbridge, Zimbabwe’s busiest port of entry, tales of corruption and collusion are as common as the vehicles that pass through its gates.

Here, amid the chaos of customs checks and congested queues, some individuals exploit the system for personal gain.

Through backroom deals and under-the-table payments, customs officials turn a blind eye to contraband passing through their checkpoints, including illicit shipments of ƨǝx toys.

“It is all about who you know and how much you’re willing to pay. Bribes are the currency of choice here, and for the right price, anything can be arranged. ƨǝx toys are just another commodity in the grand scheme of things,” a supplier who requested anonymity, told NewsDay Weekender.

Investigations also showed that within the confines of luggage compartments and carry-on bags, ƨǝx toys discreetly make their way through Zimbabwe airports, concealed in clothing, toiletries and other personal belongings.

With no specialised equipment or training to detect these items, airport security personnel often overlook them during routine screenings, allowing travellers to bypass scrutiny and proceed to their destinations unhindered.

“It is a game of chance,” remarked Emelda, a seasoned traveller who has successfully transported ƨǝx toys through Zimbabwean airports on multiple occasions.

“As long as you pack them inconspicuously and avoid drawing attention to yourself, chances are they won’t be detected. It’s all about blending in and playing it cool.”

For many women in Zimbabwe, adult toys represent more than just forbidden fruit — they are tools of empowerment, liberation and self-discovery.

Behind closed doors, away from prying eyes and judgmental gazes, these intimate companions unlock a world of pleasure previously uncharted.

From solo exploration to shared experiences with partners, the journey towards ƨǝxual fulfilment takes on new dimensions with the aid of these discreet devices.

“For too long, women’s ƨǝxuality has been shrouded in silence and shame. Adult toys offer women a means of reclaiming agency over their bodies and desires. It’s about autonomy, pleasure, and the fundamental right to explore one’s own ƨǝxuality without fear or judgment,” said a women rights activist Nancy Mupeke.

The leader of a Zimbabwe-based non-governmental organisation, Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence, is taking government to court to challenge its ban against the importation and ownership of ƨǝx toys.

She said it has deprived her of “self-exploration and indulgence in self-ƨǝxual gratification”.

Sithabile Dewa filed court papers, saying that she wants “to acquire and use ƨǝx toys that are designed to give me ƨǝxual gratification”.

Dewa argued that she is well within her rights to own ƨǝx toys.

“During the subsistence of my marriage, I would turn to my then husband for ƨǝxual gratification. I no longer have this benefit by virtue of having separated from him and in any event, he has entered another marital set-up.

“I am nevertheless young, and still have active ƨǝxual desires that require being satisfied. However, due to my moral and ethical convictions I have made a choice not to engage in extra-marital ƨǝxual relations until such a time I find someone to settle down with and establish a family,” she said.

Legal advocate Aaron Hamauswa said the Zimbabwean government was trampling on people’s rights through banning adult toys.

“The criminalisation of adult toys is an affront to individual freedoms and human rights,” asserts Rudo Chitsike, a legal advocate leading the charge for reform.

“It is time for Zimbabwe to join the ranks of progressive nations that recognise the importance of ƨǝxual autonomy. Legalisation is not just about pleasure; it’s about justice, equality, and freedom,” she added. NewsDay.

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