Before last year, Richard Ochieng’, 26, could not recall experiencing racism firsthand.
Not while growing up as an orphan in his village near Lake Victoria where everybody was, like him, black.
Not while studying at a university in another part of Kenya. Not until his job search led him to Ruiru, a fast-growing settlement at the edge of the capital, Nairobi, where Mr. Ochieng’ found work at a Chinese motorcycle company that had just expanded to Kenya.
But then his new boss, a Chinese man his own age, started calling him a monkey.
It happened when the two were on a sales trip and spotted a troop of baboons on the roadside, he said.
“‘Your brothers,’” he said his boss exclaimed, urging Mr. Ochieng’ to share some bananas with the primates.
But then again, I find most things about China repulsive.
If this is true then it’s just terrible to say the least.
But it’s quite ironic coming from a country that is still one of the most Racists countries in the world.
They shoot Black people for just walking down the road.
China is still helping these countries with Factories and jobs and all the western countries do is collect charity in the name of helping “Poor Africans” and spend it God knows where.
The man behind the clip that went viral of a deported Chinese national referring to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenyans as monkeys has finally spoken out.
Richard Ochieng’, 26 recorded Liu Jiaqi, whom he accused him of always referring to him as a monkey.
The Chinese national was deported on September 16.
The incident laid bare Kenyans’ experiences with racism and discrimination.
Chinese have established themselves as one of the biggest investors in Africa’s infrastructure projects.
In the video, Liu bragged that there was nothing poor, black, smelly Kenyans could do to him.
Speaking to the New York times, Ochieng’, said he had never experienced racism firsthand until last year.
“Not while growing up as an orphan in my village near Lake Victoria where everybody was, like me, black. Not while studying at a university. Not until his job search led him to Ruiru, a fast-growing settlement at the edge of the capital, Nairobi,” Ochieng said.
He was employed at a Chinese motorcycle company that had just expanded to Kenya.
At work place his new boss, a Chinese national who is his agemate, started calling him a monkey.
And it happened again, he said, with his boss referring to all Kenyans as primates.
Humiliated and outraged, Ochieng’ decided to record one of his boss’ rants as he declared that Kenyans were “like a monkey people.”
After the video he recorded on his cellphone circulated widely last month, Kenyan authorities swiftly deported his boss back to China.
Instead of a tidy resolution, however, the episode has resonated with a growing anxiety in Kenya and set off a broader debate.
As the country embraces China’s expanding presence in the region, many Kenyans wonder whether the nation has unwittingly welcomed an influx of powerful foreigners who are shaping the country’s future — while also bringing racist attitudes with them.
“It is a wrenching question for the nation, and one that many Kenyans, especially younger ones, did not expect to be confronting in the 21st century,” New York Times wrote.
The experience of Ochieng’ and other workers speak to the future of relations between the two countries.
Ochieng took a job as a salesman, thinking it would secure a prosperous future, but when he showed up to work he found a different reality.
The pay was a fraction of what he was initially offered, he said, and it was subject to deduction for a long list of infractions.
“No laughing,” was one of the injunctions printed in the company rules. Each minute of lateness — sometimes unavoidable given Nairobi’s notorious traffic — came with a steep fine. An employee who was 15 minutes late might be docked five or six hours’ pay, he said.
Ochieng’ said sometimes Liu Jiaqi smiled and was good-natured. But whenever the question of pay came up or something went wrong, Liu turned on his subordinates.
When Ochieng’ left a sales brochure behind in the car during a sales visit and had to excuse himself to retrieve it, he said Jiaqi began crowing, “This African is very foolish.”
But the most painful, he said, was the monkey insults — the kind of dehumanisation used to justify slavery and colonisation.
Ochieng’ said he protested several times, but the monkey comments did not stop.
“It was too much,” he said. “I decided, ‘Let me record it.’”
Ochieng asked his boss why he was taking out his anger on him.
“Because you are Kenyan,” Jiaqi explained, saying that all Kenyans, even the President, are “like a monkey.”
Ochieng’ continued that Kenyans may have once been oppressed, but that they have been free people since 1963.
“Like a monkey,” Jiaqi responded. “Monkey is also free.”
Ochieng’ said he had heard stories of colonialism — “what our forefathers went through” — and worries that the Chinese will take Kenya backwards, not forward as the nation’s leaders have assured.
“These guys are trying to take us back to those days,” he said in the tiny room he shares with his wife and two-year-old son. On the wall hung a poster with a verse from Ephesians. Nearby, on a little desk rested two Bibles, both equally dog-eared with use.
“Someday I will tell my son that when you were young, I was despised because I was black,” he said.
The Chinese population in Kenya is difficult to count accurately, although one research group put the figure at around 40,000.
Many are here for just a few years, to work for one of the hundreds of Chinese companies.
Many of the employees live together in large housing developments and are bussed back and forth from work, leaving little social interaction with Kenyans.