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Kenyans say Chinese investment brings racism and discrimination

Author: Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, Published on: 14 October 2018

…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…Humiliated and outraged, Mr. Ochieng’ decided to record one of his boss’s rants, catching him declaring that Kenyans were “like a monkey people.”…The footage…went viral…the Kenyan authorities swiftly deported the boss back to China…

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…In Nairobi, workers in their 20s and 30s swap stories of racism or discrimination they have witnessed. One described watching a Chinese manager slap her Kenyan colleague, who was also a woman, for a minor mistake. Other Kenyan workers explained how their office bathrooms were separated by race…

…[O]ne research group put the figure [of Chinese population in Kenya] at around 40,000…many arrive with hierarchical views of culture and race that tend to place Africans at the bottom, said Howard French, a former New York Times correspondent who wrote the 2014 book “China’s Second Continent,” which chronicles the lives of Chinese settlers in Africa.

Accusations of discrimination have even emerged on a major state-sponsored project: a 300-mile Chinese-built railroad between Nairobi and Mombasa…The Standard, a Kenyan newspaper…describe[ed] an atmosphere of “neocolonialism” for Kenyan railway workers under Chinese management. Some have been subjected to demeaning punishment, it said, while Kenyan engineers have been prevented from driving the train, except when journalists are present…

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