The owner of a Chinese restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya has been arrested following an uproar over its policy of banning African customers at night, according to reports. Owner Zhao Yang was arrested for operating a restaurant without a valid license shortly after local press ran a story alleging that Kenyan reporters were turned away from the restaurant — for being African.
Kenyan social media users were quickly up in arms about the ban, taking to Facebook and Twitter to voice their displeasure, using the hashtag #noblacksallowed.
The establishment, known only as Chinese Restaurant, in the Kilimani neighborhood of Nairobi, has subsequently been closed after it transpired that it lacked several necessary licenses, lacked liquor, health or change-of-use licences — the latter needed as the property had been converted from a residence to a restaurant.
Co-owner and restaurant manager Esther Zhao told the newspaper that the “no Africans at night” policy had its roots in security concerns.
“We don’t admit Africans that we don’t know because you never know who is Al-Shabaab and who isn’t,” she said, referencing the Islamist militant group that is active in Kenya and neighboring Somalia. “It is not like it is written on somebody’s face that they are a thug armed with a gun,” she said.The restaurant’s owners appeared to admit culpability in a statement reproduced in the newspaper.
“Because of the concern of the business environment at night and the bad memory of (a robbery in) 2013, we adopted certain measures. Unfortunately, some of the measures were inappropriate, we sincerely apologize for this,” the management said in a statement.
A Chinese restaurant in the Kenyan capital does not admit Africans after 5:00pm, insisting they pose a security threat to its clients. The staff cites criminal situations and the activities of terrorist group Al Shabaab.
The eatery in Nairobi named the “Chinese Restaurant” claimed to have made the decision after an armed robbery last year and recent warnings from the Chinese embassy over Al Shabaab’s increased threat, local media report.
We don’t admit Africans that we don’t know because you never know who is Al-Shabaab and who isn’t,” Esther Zhao, a PR manager with the restaurant, told the Nairobi News. “It is not like it is written on somebody’s face that they are a thug armed with a gun.
Zhao says the guests of the restaurant feel safer and more comfortable if African customers are kept away. Only taxi drivers and Africans accompanied by European, Chinese or Indian guests can be admitted.
“It is strictly a no-African policy and we have even had to turn away some prominent Kenyans who were obviously not a security threat,” a restaurant worker told the journalists on conditions of anonymity.
According to the Nairobi News, those locked out included the former Cabinet Secretary for the Interior Joseph ole Lenku, and former education secretary and presidential candidate Joseph ole Kiyiapi.
However, some Africans considered “loyal” can still come in. You have to spend 20,000 Kenyan shilling (about $217 US) in a certain time period to qualify. The only people allowed in any time are Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko and former Cabinet Minister Raphael Tuju, who are reportedly the owner’s friends.
The move caused an outrage in the media and among local politicians. “That amounts to racial and ethnic profiling, which is unconstitutional,” said the country’s ombudsman, Otiende Amollo. “It has in it the inherent assumption that Africans are inevitably pre-disposed to be robbers… Whatever measures they choose to take to maintain security must be measures that treat people equally irrespective of race, gender or colour.”
AND SOME OF US STILL GO THERE TO EAT – SEE PICTURE BELOW