Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Unlawful Business of Serving Food in a Whites-Only Club in Accra

An Italian uomo hissed at a black Afri-lady that she could not gain membership of his degustation restaurant in Accra because she was “not white”. He laughed while hissing. She was outraged, and waged war through social media. The unsavoury jibe jarred on the public psyche-palate. The government boys ‘came to town’ and closed down the ‘club’.

I believe the Italian man. I believe that he was just joking. The Afri-lady was with a Spaniard and a Japanese national when the pellets smacked the ceiling. I understand that the Japanese was a member of the club. I have doubts that the Italian uomo would have thought the Japanese white. Plus, if there was real racism going on, why would they not simply make it a private, members-only gig? Why would they allow non-whites to walk in and eat, and only withhold membership with its (usually) dubious benefits?

That said, I believe it was a very lame defence for the Italian man to say the fact that he was married to a black woman was proof that he was not racist. Very lame!

So, I believe that it was a mere jackass joke, and not true jaundice.

But the joke exposed him. He was operating a legit, front-room, raw seafood shop and an unlawful, backroom, seafood eatery. He evaded certain taxes by giving worthless scribbles on paper as receipts. He was cheating the nation.

So, a cruel, ill-thought, stupid, unnecessary joke exposed the poor man to odium, opprobrium and ‘government matter’. Hopefully, he thinks before he speaks next time, but I don't think he is racist. Enough of this row now.


  1. Well put Nana Yaw. You have managed to capture succintly all my sentiments on the whole debacle. I find myself with absolutely nothing to add.

  2. @ Abena Serwaa...

    Thank you very much, Old Friend.

  3. Succinctly summed up!

  4. oh thats the story. Thanks for the details.
    I'm glad he got called on his utterances. Its a lesson for us all. Can't go around making jokes about our differences.

  5. I totally disagree, I think his remarks were racist, and utterly disrespectful, whether it was intended as such or not. And the whole media hullabaloo is totally legit, and it speaks to our passionate intolerance of racism or jokes w/ racist undertones.

  6. Kwame Mensa-Bonsu03 November, 2011

    Lots of harmless comments/jokes can look very terrible when taken out of one has to be careful. Thank you, NY, for this illumination, but more questions remain. One being, does the Tourism ministry monitor these eateries at all?

  7. Just a quick note to let you know I read the post :)

  8. @ Think-About-It:

    Truly said about loose statements. But maybe he felt assimilated enough to make such a statement...maybe he forgot he was white (which would actually be a good thing, no?)

  9. @ yeh:

    It is good that we disagree. I do not believe that my post says the joke was not racist. I believe what the post says is not to fix the man as racist automatically because he said a racist joke. I know I have said things among black people I would not have if a white person was around - and I am not the only one. And I do not think I am racist.

    Everybody I know - I think - would frown on open racism. Most would frown on covert racism too.

  10. @ Kwame Mensa-Bonsu:

    Well said about contexts. I do not think our regulators in most fields are generally doing well. That probably excludes the Bank of Ghana and (yes!) the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission. Did it have to take a racist joke for an illegally operating restaurant in Osu (squat in the middle of Accra) to be detected and closed down?

  11. @ Nana:

    Thanks very much. Hugs.

  12. Racist jokes does not a man make... or maybe it does... it's all semantics! It's 2011, I dont' think any sane person is going to own up to being racist! Hypothetically speaking, in 2011 asking a black person to give up their seat for a white person may pass as a sour joke, decades ago it bolstered the civil rights movement! I'm blabbing, fact is, it's not about the labels, it's more than just a bad racist joke.

  13. yes Nana Yaw. It is a good thing if he feels like he is 100% Ghanaian. But stiiiiiiill, some underlying factors dont change. We live in a world where we know some people judge based on skin color, accent, body odour, income level or whatever. You never know whose button you will wrongly push.
    Thats why I'm working on me and checking what I say before it rolls off my tongue (my big mouth sometimes fails miserably).

  14. I don't even care if he's racist. It's absolutely his right to be racist and I'd support any demand for such a right. Indeed, i wish he was and so did not make a joke but was serious about his statement and hence stand by his words so we see what law can stop him from deciding who to associate with.
    Clubs are privileged societies and have their requirements for admission. If race is one of those requirements so be it.
    If you are against racism it does not mean you must prevent anyone who wants to be a racist from so doing.
    All that aside, the Okoro woman just had many people misled. who told her she can force her way into just any club?
    This has just been one of those unnecessary noise making that even spoils any genuine fight against racism.

  15. and lest I forget, the Ghanaian constitution, within which Ghanaians are supposed to act guarantees 'freedom of association'. So have Ghanaians read their own constitution?

  16. @ Nivisi:

    I do not agree with many of your opinions, but I will defend your right to hold those opinions, even at the risk of death.

    However, it would appear that it is YOU and not 'Ghanaians' who have not read the Ghanaian Constitution well. It allows for freedom of association. This has been interpreted by the courts (whose job it is to interprete the law) as an inclusive and NOT restrictive right (in terms of such things as race).


    Therefore, hold your position, but you missed the mark on the constitutional argument. Why not go read it?

  17. Nana Yaw,
    Thanks. I'm happy that at least I can count on you to defend my right to express my views freely. If only the world had many more people like you than we have the 'others'. oh how so nice it would have been.

    anyway, perhaps because I refuse to accept I'm Ghanaian I may have a different interpretation of the Ghanaian constitution.

    I did not know about the courts interpreting 'freedom of association' to mean inclusive and not restrictive. So thanks for the class. I'd have to come for more classes.

    However, though the constitution outlaws discrimination against race I think that cannot and must not apply in this case as to attract sanction in any form. Else so many people must be answering before the courts by now. Even in the parliament of Ghana there are caucuses based on tribe or regions of origin and those are discriminatory too. We have even had political parties dismissing members based on their differing views. That too is discriminatory.

    I believe the spirit of the constitution in that respect is about not discriminating against people when it comes to what is due them but not about giving people the right to demand membership of any association just because the association exists.

    Anyway, Thanks again.

  18. Interesting debate here. Of course, NYA assumes it was a joke. This, we can never ascertain. However, if it was indeed a joke, did he eventually bring registration forms to the complainant? Can he show how many black members existed in this club before the shutdown? I refuse to believe it's a joke. I shudder to think that racists are becoming bolder and more comfortable in Ghana to tell us in our own backyards that we don't belong. Our independence fighters must turn in their graves at the thought.
    Racism is racism and it shd not be accepted no matter the form it comes in. Joke or not!
    I wished they had investigated the racist claims and if true, the place be shut for that specific reason. Still, I am proud of the govt for not tolerating racism in any shape, even if it was guised under some other reason! My 2 cents

  19. @ Bio:

    Fair point(s), generally. Racist JOKES are distasteful. And I believe he has really been shut down for the race issue. As for calling him racist, I would still not rush to that conclusion.

  20. The owner has made a statement on the original blog post that started the whole issue. He says that the first members of the club were Ghanaians and he has many non-white members of the club. Of course, now we cannot verify that.

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