KIPRONO: Racism is harmful and a sign of ignorance - Daily Nation

Racism is harmful and a sign of ignorance

Wednesday September 12 2018


A Chinese motorcycle dealer who was deported for calling Kenyans monkeys and insulting President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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In a video recording last week, a Chinese man unequivocally tells his male Kenyan employee that Kenyans, including the President, are “monkey people”, smell bad, are poor, foolish and black! He asks: “Why would anyone like them?”

Liu Jiaqi was soon after arrested, and, according the Immigration Department, deported to China on “racism grounds”. Kenyans took to social media to vent their anger at the rant and back the ‘punishment’.

But I was of a contrary opinion: He should have been taken to court if, indeed, he had committed a crime, deported. I am uncomfortable with the State’s unfettered power to deport foreigners without a clear process or procedure.

I long for the day when Kenyans will display similar outrage to tribalism as they do to racism. The two are almost identical and should be treated with the same contempt.


Whereas racism was used as justification for the capture and enslaving of black people during the Slave Trade, apartheid in South Africa, segregation in the United States and the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, ethnicity and tribalism triggered the Rwanda, Bosnian and Armenian genocides and the 2007/2008 post-election violence here.

Sadly, Liu clearly doesn’t know or appreciate the suffering of his people due to racism. In the late 1930s, Japanese Imperialists subjected the Chinese to untold suffering that included forced labour, starvation, mass murder, mass rape and human experimentation that is only really comparable to, and was a precursor to, what the Germans did to Jews a few years later during the Second World War.

The Japanese would often refer to the Chinese as vermin. In December 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army entered the then-Chinese capital Nanjing and, in only six weeks, slew 300,000 non-combatants and systematically raped girls and women. One girl was reserved for 15 Japanese soldiers.


In a bizarre incident, the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun newspaper covered a “contest” between two Japanese officers: The first to kill 100 people with a sword.

The Liu incident ironically occurred when President Uhuru Kenyatta was in China on a State visit. It came barely a month after media reports that Kenyans working for the SGR were being mistreated by their Chinese bosses on racial grounds and that some Guangzhou hotels had banned Kenyan and Nigerian guests.

China has achieved a lot in the past four decades through far-reaching economic reforms. — a situation that unjustifiably allows Liu to look down upon Kenyans.


It is not lost to him, and honest Kenyans, that some of our economic priorities are misplaced; that corruption, tribalism and impunity keeps us down in terms of poverty, standards of living, economic growth and enjoyment of rights.

Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning because racial categories are weak proxies for genetic diversity and, as such, need to be phased out.

This means that racism and racists’ beliefs are rooted in ignorance. Somebody should enlighten Liu and his ilk to shed their backward beliefs.

Mr Kiprono is a human rights lawyer. [email protected] Twitter: @kipdemas