The croissant scandal that never was

It does not serve what is considered traditional African food and many congenitally-rude Kenyans cannot pronounce the items on its menu, but, all in the spirit of keeping up with the Joneses, they still patronise its outlets. - Clay Muganda

What you need to know:

  • Truth be told, we are nation of euphoric cry babies who sulk like spurned adolescents and never understand instructions

Shhhh! I’d like to guess it is now safe to mention Artcaffé. Some weeks ago, blue-blooded “indigenous” Kenyans who have made the new media their theatre of war would have bullied you out of cyberspace if you had said something nice about it.

You were only safe if you claimed that it spices its schnitzel, linguine carbonara, margherita basilica, tagliatelle Bolognese — and many of its hard-to-pronounce items — with racism and garnishes them with slices of half-baked and stale michetta, ciabatta, boule, brioche or dampfnudel.

For the uninitiated, Artcaffé is a delicatessen with outlets in four shopping malls in Nairobi. To regular patrons, it is just a food outlet, an eatery, but for many pseudo-middle class Kenyans, it is a status symbol, thus when these wolves in cheap second-hand clothes visit, they expect chefs and wait staff to put everything on the back burner, roll out the red carpet and mount guards of honour for them.

It does not serve what is considered traditional African food and many congenitally-rude Kenyans cannot pronounce the items on its menu, but, all in the spirit of keeping up with the Joneses, they still patronise its outlets.

Some weeks ago, an “indigenous” Kenyan received what he considered to be unsatisfactory service at one of the outlets. Instead of fighting for his rights himself, he cried out to a sister who bolted to new media screaming that racial discrimination was the main condiment in her brother’s order. Then hell broke loose as epithets were hurled at the establishment’s “racist” foreign proprietors and local wait staff.

If you have lived in Kenya long enough, then you know labelling service providers racist or accusing them of racial discrimination is not new. It is an art Kenyans have perfected. When we do not receive what we consider to be good service, we infer racial discrimination — even when the person who supposedly served us poorly is of our race.

It is not easy to know exactly who cast the first croissant those many weeks ago, but I can bet my last stick of baguette that whatever transpired did so because the customer was rude, considering that Kenyans are generally obtuse, belligerent and never admit they are at fault.

Don’t Kenyans just love being “victims” of racial discrimination? We are always discriminated against yet we mistake politeness for stupidity, so much so that even when we seek to be attended to, we do not talk to wait staff but make catcalls at them because the former is a sign of weakness.

Kenyans never ask (for services), we demand — with a fixed mind on what the answer should be. When we are given a different answer, we scream racial discrimination, rally our troops and the rest is hysteria.

Truth be told, we are nation of euphoric cry babies who sulk like spurned adolescents and never understand instructions. And it is not due to illiteracy, but because we are obstinate, uncivil and are unschooled in simple matters of good mannerisms.

We are the people who can go to motorbike races with bicycles and when turned away, complain about racial discrimination, a war-cry that is gaining currency amongst Kenya’s growing ersatz middle class.

Let’s admit it. We are an unruly, discourteous people who do not understand that bad behaviour is infectious or that we do not have a monopoly over rashness. That is why we throw tantrums when the other parties hit back after we have infected them with our despicable mannerisms.

While there is a dearth of good customer care in many establishments in Kenya, we do not do not know how to stand up for our rights. When we think we are doing so, we end up exposing our inferiority and superiority complexes (which are the same) because we have low self esteem and needlessly and unnecessarily try to stamp our authority.

Look at how we behave in Parliament, on the roads, on the streets, in mass transport or in places where we are supposed to queue and you will understand how foggy and narrow our collective national mindset is.

We experience chaos in Kenya primarily because we are an uncivilised people without the mental capacity to see logic, to reason, to engage in meaningful dialogue, to talk to one another — we are an ignorant, argumentative and combative nation which thinks that we make sense only when we shout and that all our problems are caused by foreigners.

Laid down procedures or laws are just proposals which we feel we are not obliged to adhere to, and when we are reminded, we throw tantrums and blame it all on foreigners, yeah, racial discrimination, yet we have never internalised our mistakes or shortcomings.

When it comes to haute cuisine, molecular gastronomy or upmarket restaurants, our palates are numb, our taste buds are dead and also, we have limited, or no knowledge at all, about culinary arts or fine foods.

Thus, we order items because they are high-priced — all in trying to keep up with the Joneses — then wail, whine, hurl epithets when they do not taste like the bland, ordinary, badly-cooked fare we usually consume in road-side eateries.

Dear Kenyans, Five Star is not a building. It is a lifestyle. As long as we do not understand that, and change our mannerisms or learn to be polite, we deserve to be racially discriminated against — and, yes, we can complain till kingdom come but the so-called foreigners will not budge and we will never run them out of town either. Thanks for reading.


Why do kenyans love to hide behind social media?

Do you know who I am?” an enraged celebutard asked, and the proprietor coolly answered: “If you don’t know who you are, then you need to see a doctor.”

If there is an “art” I am yet to master, it is the ranting on the new media about an establishments with unsatisfactory service. Maybe I will do it, probably I have done it, but to the best of my recollection, I do not think I have.

I also patronise establishments that offer “poor” services, but I defend my rights there and then, after all, I am the one who is affected, so why should I seek validation by bringing in other people with one side of the story?

I find it a bit malicious and foolish, an ill-advised activity that reveals more about the complainant’s feeble mind, meekness, low self esteem, lack of confidence, than the establishment’s bad service.

The point is, I get what I need and I never accept poor service at any time of the day or night at any establishment, be it a supermarket, restaurant or corporate companies.

When it comes to the latter, I call them (or the public relations agencies that handle their issues) and explain my problem and even the lethargic Kenya Power has sorted me out numerous times just through phone calls.

Did I mention that the biggest whiners are “celebutards” and TV personalities with do-you-know-who-I-am–mentality? They feel slighted when they are not recognised, so they rush to the new media to rally their troops even after they have caused a ruckus at the establishment.

... And why do they bully?

Kenyans are bullies and many a time their victims let them off lightly. One thing I have promised myself is never to be bullied — and in turn, I never bully people.

If you cut in front of me in a queue anywhere, I tell you to get back, no matter your social status, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation.

If you hoot at me when I am crossing the road at a zebra crossing or when I have right of way, I stop and remind you that I also drive.

When I am behind the wheel and you honk when I am waiting for the lights to change, I stay put because a vehicle’s horn has never blown another vehicle out of the road.

And yes, I give way to essential services like ambulances and fire engines, and I am not so narrow-minded as to fight for space so I can rush after them.