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Chandarana Foodplus supermarket braves storm from racial slur

By Josephat Thiong'o | Published Tue, July 31st 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 31st 2018 at 08:06 GMT +3
Chandarana Supermarket in Ngara, Nairobi. A leaked email to its managers has caused an uproar. [Pius Cheruiyot, Standard]

Business continued as usual at a supermarket chain caught in a racism slur.

On Sunday, Chandarana Foodplus supermarket apologised after an email on how to attract white customers, which was circulated to its managers, went viral.

The email asked managers to target white shoppers with gift vouchers.

“We are delighted to inform you that our supermarket chain would like to give you free vouchers for upcoming events, as we are now focusing on white people to attract our supermarkets...,” read the email.

Poor wording

The supermarket blamed a recently hired marketing specialist for “poor wording” in the email, stating that she had a poor grasp of English.

“Chandarana Food plus would like to sincerely apologise for the unfortunate and insensitive narrative written on email by one of our very new and recent hires in the marketing department,” the statement read in part.

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But the apology did not stop an uproar triggered by the email that was widely circulated online.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko was considering revoking of the supermarket’s licence.

A number of leaders and shoppers have, however, called for further investigation on the leaked email before any action is taken against the supermarket.

Nairobi county assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi, said investigation should be conducted to know who hacked into the supermarket’s computer systems and leaked the email.

“Whoever gave the email should provide more information. Governor Sonko has to step in and support the supermarket’s workers, who might get into trouble,” she said.

Uasin Gishu woman representative Gladys Sholei said while Kenyans had every reason to be angry about the email, revoking the license of the supermarket would have enormous repercussions.

Unemployment level

“Remember that the levels of unemployment in our country is high. You do not want to shut the supermarket down until you are sure it has committed an offence,” said Mrs Sholei.

Ephantus Mbogo, a shopper at the supermarket’s Ngara branch, defended the outlet, saying he had never experienced racism at any of its branches. He vowed to continue shopping there.

“I have never been mistreated because of the colour of my skin, yet I frequent this supermarket. I think Governor Sonko should first get his facts right before thinking of revoking its licence,” he said.

Loss of jobs

Others warned that any action against the supermarket would affect its workers.

“It would not only be a blow to hundreds of workers who would lose jobs but also a blow to the retail sector,” said Erick Goko.

Others called for action against the supermarket, citing similar cases in the US.

“The scenario is similar to a recent one in the US, where a coffee outlet was temporarily closed down due to discrimination against blacks. Kenya is not ready to add racism to its list of problems,” said Evelyne Awuor, also a shopper.

But the supermarket has braved the uproar and kept its doors open for its clients.

Yesterday, The Standard found shoppers still flocking the supermarket’s outlets in Ngara, Muthaiga, Karen and Kilimani.


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