“I have HIV. You Have To Use A Condom.” These are the words that potentially saved Zainab Oladehinde’s life during what was supposed to be a birthday trip of a lifetime in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Her dreams of the perfect 23rd birthday were shattered. And a year later, she’s opening up about her experience with a tale of caution for solo travelers.

“This incident happened a year ago in April 2021, but I haven’t been able to talk about it because I’ve been in therapy for a year to heal from the psychological trauma as this experience has been the most painful and traumatic experience I’ve ever faced in my entire life,” she says in a tweet that has been shared or retweeted more than 78,000 times. “In, fact, I’m glad I’m still alive today to share my story.”

Waking Up To A Stranger In Her Room in Zanzibar

Oladehine arrived at the Warere Beach Hotel on April 16, 2021. She traveled for two days from Lagos, Nigeria to Zanzibar. The first night of her six-night stay went well. She arrived later in the day and only had enough energy to eat dinner after the long flight

Oladehinde says the staff welcomed her and showed her around shortly after her arrival. She remembers saying to herself that the hotel “looked like heaven.”

The next morning, the first thing on her itinerary was to spend time exploring the hotel before her activities.

“I had breakfast, went to the pool and the beach which was very nice,” she says. “I mingled with some Russian couples, who were also lodged at the hotel. By evening time, I was already in full birthday mode, as it was just a few hours to my birthday.”

She headed back to her room around midnight. After talking to a few friends and family, who wished her a happy birthday, she went to bed.

But a few hours into her sleep, she thought someone was touching her breasts. She knew she locked the door so, she thought it was a dream.

“Some few minutes afterward, I started to feel my hands stroking someone’s penis,” she says. “I opened my eyes to confirm if it was actually a dream, or I was in real danger.”

Turns out she was.

The room was dark, and she remembers the man calling her baby. She kept asking the man, “who are you?” and he kept replying “baby, baby,” she recalls.

He stuffed his hand over her mouth to stop her from shouting as she got louder.

“I became very scared as I didn’t know who this was and why this person was in my room. A lot of things were going through my head at the same time. Who is this? Does he have a weapon? Will I get raped and killed on my birthday in a strange land?”

Fighting For Her Life

There were so many thoughts running through her head. At the same time, the man tried to climb on top to force sexual intercourse.

She cried as he spoke what she says was Swahili. She lied and told him that she had HIV and that he needed to get a condom first.  But he began to strangle her as she begged him for her life.  She told him she would allow him to have sex with her as long as he used a condom, so he wouldn’t contract the virus either.

“I saw that he reacted to the word ‘HIV,’ so I kept on saying HIV whilst crying profusely at this point,” she says.

The man pressed her neck against the bed again, and she struggled to not let him strangle her. He told her he would be back with a condom and left.

She immediately locked the doors and realized there were no phones to call for help. She tried to call the police and no one responded.

So, she decided to leave the room.

“I decided it was very unsafe for me to remain in the room,” says Oladehine. “If I’d die, I’d rather die trying to escape rather than let the man come back to attack me a second time in my room.”

Getting Out of The Room

Once outside, she tried to make her way to the reception, but noticed two men standing by the pool having a conversation.

It was the security guards, but she was afraid to say something because she wasn’t sure if one of the men attacked her.

Falling down to her knees, she began to crawl to the reception to not be seen or heard. The only problem was no one was at the reception desk.

“Almost immediately, I remembered the Russian couple I had spent some time with the day before, and I could go to their room to seek refuge,” she recounts in the story.

After putting her phone on silent, she crawled to the couple’s room where she stayed the rest of the night.

She called her driver, ‘Mr Suley,’ by morning and headed for the police station to report the incident.

Before heading to the police station, Ms Oladehinde said she spoke to Mussa, the hotel receptionist, who claimed he received a phone call around 4 a.m. from the hotel’s owner to go check on her but went back to bed when he could not find her.

She also found that $1,100 was missing from her bag.

“When we got to the police station, I was asked to write my statement…they advised I go to the hospital to go do a check up if I was raped or not.

“They were all speaking Swahili and were asking me questions instead of interrogating the suspects. When I decided to take a picture of the police station and the statement I had written, the police men started shouting at me and threatening me to delete the pictures I have.”

Ms Oladehinde said she refused to delete the pictures. Based on that, the police chief at the Nungwi police station said he would not let her get to the hospital for a checkup.

She was later allowed to go to the hospital where it was confirmed that there was no penetration.

“I got back to the police station and the police men said they have no issue for the sexual assault since I was not raped. The only issue here was my stolen money,” she wrote.

According to Ms Oladehinde’s account, the police at Nungwi police station kept bullying her, asking her to leave their station as there was no case of rape.

“The police chief at the Nungwi police station then said he wouldn’t let them take me to the hospital for a checkup if I don’t delete my pictures and videos,” she says.


But she kept the footage, stating that it was the only evidence she had. After hours, she finally made it to the hospital, the nurse confirmed there were no signs indicating penetration.


Warere Beach Resort in a FaceBook post on Sunday said that the police report indicated that this was a personal case, and not negligence on its part (the hotel).

“As a woman-owned and operated business, the Warere takes guest safety and the safety of single women travellers extremely seriously, as evidenced by 6 years of verified positive reviews from women all over the world,” Warere wrote.

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It added that it tried its best to support Ms Oladehinde as soon as it learned of the accusations.

“We immediately brought her to the police and offered her support. The case was brought before Government authorities in April 2021 when it occurred.

It added that Ms Oladehinde declined to take the case further even after she was informed that the hotel would abide by damages awarded by the court system of Zanzibar.

However, in a post made earlier which the hotel has deleted, it said the suspect was a security official posted to the hotel and not its staff.

According to Warere, the suspect claimed Ms Oladehinde invited him to her room for a love affair and when he got to her room, she asked him to get a condom for safety.

The hotel noted that the security man confessed to the crime and he had an accomplice in the kitchen staff.

The two men were arrested and later released.

It said the police advised that the case be pursued in court but Ms Oladehinde declined and would rather go to the district commissioner demanding $10,000 in damages.

Ms Oladehinde in her account said lawyers from the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association, who she had contacted, Tanzania immigration official and the district commissioner Sadifa Khumis reached the agreement that she should be paid $10,000 in damages.

She noted that the co-owner of the hotel asked her to press charges against the security company after objecting to paying the damages as requested, insisting that the kitchen staff was not part of the crime.

The hotel claimed that Ms Oladehinde threatened to tarnish its image through social media if they did not dance to her tune.


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