Restaurant hopping is one of my favourite pass times, usually under the guise of looking for a nice quiet environment in which to write, meet up business partners and sit my with my colleague to plan and map the coming period’s activities.

Nice excuses to try out new places right? Well, the experience of sitting in a wide variety of eating places brings about an interesting phenomenon that although is fiercely denied in the hospitality industry, still exists – racism.

Interestingly is isn’t racism practiced in the hard cold black and white, or coloured way, where discrimination occurs one entity against the other, but covert racism where the employees of an establishment completely fawn over customers over a specific race, in this specific case Caucasian, providing a starkly different level of service above other customers.

Without much variation – this is how the scene plays out……..

• Enter Mzungu (Caucasian) customer(s).
• Staff run to the entrance/lobby/reception area to welcome customer(s).
• Wide wide smiling and over exuberant words of welcome from staff.
• Customer(s) is shown to the most vantage sitting space.
• Manager of facility comes out to add to the welcome chorus for the customer(s).
• Staff proceed to fawn over customer(s) attending to their every whim, expressed or otherwise.
• Manager hovers about never far from the customer(s) table.
• Customer(s) finish and are thanked profusely for coming.
• Staff provide a chorus of goodbyes expressing enthusiastic appreciation for the visit.
• Staff escort customer(s) out performing acts akin to deep bows and curtsies.
• Staff return to ‘normal’ ignoring other customers and only attending to them when summoned.

Change the restaurant name, location, food specialty, star grading, cost or orientation – same script, different cast. Always.
So let’s speculate why this happens like clockwork without fail……..

Why is it that staff from all ranks in these eateries are reduced to fawning, adulatory and obsequious beings on the entry of Wazungus. Is it because…….

• We are still tangled in the web of colonial hangover where we believe we should submit?
• These types of customer(s) leave tips as a matter of practice?
• We believe they patronize restaurants often as against other races who do so on ‘occasion’?
• It is the in the establishment’s rule book to do so and observation otherwise is fatal?

Do you suppose these are valid postulations? Could there be any other reasons why this phenomenon happens?

What are your thoughts? Please add to the list and spur a healthy discussion?

Whatever the case may be, it is possible that some of the perpetrators of these acts may not even be aware that their bodies speak and that they display such mannerisms. In service delivery – body language and non-verbal communication is a strong factor for success.

This therefore goes out as an appeal for raised awareness and consciousness and to have the people in leadership have their teams adopt a brothers’ keeper system, be aware of, point out and kill that behaviour.