The management of Olive Restaurant in Nairobi has been forced to apologise for allegedly ordering a woman to breastfeed her baby in a washroom away from other customers.
Mr Moses Wambua, a manager, issued the apology on Tuesday after an outraged group of women marched to the restaurant in protest.
His action came in the wake of social media storm regarding claims made by a woman who visited the restaurant on Sunday.
The mother, who had started breastfeeding the child, was allegedly ordered by waiters to go and complete the feeding in a washroom, away from the curious glances of other customers.
Sensing danger as the demonstrating women approached the establishment, the restaurant staff hurriedly closed the doors.
No fracas was witnessed in the peaceful picketing that lasted for hours.
The demonstrators' message was simple and clear: "We shall breastfeed where we want".
Mr Wambua was at pains to explain that the popular Accra Road restaurant did not discriminate against lactating mothers, saying breastfeeding was normal.
“We don't care about women covering up while breastfeeding or not. They can even change their babies in the boss' office," he said.
“We are very sorry if indeed this incident happened as we did not know until we learned about it on social media," he said.
Mr Wambua insisted that the restaurant did not have a negative attitude against women.
"We love women since many of our customers are women. In fact, as a business, we must welcome women because we want the money female customers bring," Mr Wambua told the agitated women.
The manager said the hotel did not have CCTV footage to prove the complainant's claims.
He said those who were aggrieved should have reported the matter to them for what he termed “an appropriate solution to the problem”.
The manager further alleged that no complaint had been lodged with the management regarding the alleged incident.
“Since no one has officially complained of harassment by our staff up to this moment, we cannot be sure as to whether it actually occurred,” he said.
“This was the reason as to why we took long to respond to the outcry on social media and I repeat that we are very sorry for the wronged lady if it happened.”
Mr Wambua, however, claimed there were “ulterior motives pursued by unknown people” in the social media campaign against the restaurant as it had never experienced such a accusations in the past.
"There is somebody behind these claims but we will handle the situation as soon as we complete investigations into the matter," he said.
Gilgil MP Martha Wangari, who attended the demonstration in solidarity with the women, wondered if people would cover their food while eating.
“Would any of you cover your food while eating it? When a woman is breastfeeding, it means her child is feeding and there is no need to demand that the child’s source of food be covered,” she said.
Ms Wangari said she supported the right of women to breastfeed in places set aside for the activity, saying the 2017 Health Act provides that any organisation with more than 30 employees should have such a zone.
“We are going to lobby Parliament to order the provision of such spaces for our lactating mothers so that they can breastfeed our children in peace,” she said.