time’s a wastin’

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In Tram 83, Fiston Mwanza Mujila creates a world in the DRC that is filled with a tremendous amount of corruption. From a dissident General to failing post-decolonization, this City-State is not the place to be; however, Tram 83 is.

Tram 83, a destination in the City-State that not only offers a good time by creating memories, but offers a lot of girls as well. “Tram 83 was one of the most popular restaurants and hooker bars, its renown stretching beyond the City-States borders” (7). The club provides a night life to a city that although is physically there, no longer exists. It may not seem like it, but Tram 83 is the one place that seems a bit hopeful and least disappointing.

If you’re wondering, yes, prostitutes even exist in fictional novels and in this case, many of them not only frequent Tram 83, but the City-State in general. Throughout the course of the novel, the baby-chicks ask “do you have the time?” (9). The question itself is ambiguous. Have the time for what? I’ve thought about a couple of different ways this one simple question can be interpreted.

Do you have the time:

  1. For sex? Because sex is something that is brought up in Tram through belly politics, but it also something that is used against the tourists. Sex is part of the corruption.
  2. Like the actual time?

And with a better understanding of the novel as we reached the end,

  1. Do you have the time to help me? The time to change things?

To say it lightly, the City-State is fucked. With the amount of corruption going on, there seems to be no hope for anyone. As previously mentioned, sex is part of the corruption in the City-State. With Requiem playing dirty and using the baby-chicks for his own benefit, it’s hard to believe that there aren’t girls who disagree with everything they’re doing. Maybe Requiem is forcing them to sell their bodies as blackmail? Maybe this is part of the geography of hunger in the City-State, where you gotta do what you gotta do in order to survive. Sex sells and that money can be used to put food in the belly.

Maybe I’m just overthinking this simple question and it really just shows how determined the baby-chicks are at their job. Maybe they really are just asking if they have the time for a quick fuck, but then again, do you have the time to see how these girls are forced to sell their bodies in order to make a day-to-day living and have to comply with a crooked man that seems to have more power than the City-State government itself?

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