Thursday, July 24, 2008
RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION. THE HALLMARK OF “CUSTOMER SERVICE” AT CAIRO AIRPORT.
the following article contains raw and uncensored language and emotions expressed by the author.
Author not liable for any pent up feelings generated during & after reading the article.
You may now proceed if you consent.
When the plantain dies, its saplings takes its place, when the fire dies, the ashes take its place and that is the meaning of tradition”, that is what makes us HUMAN, that is what makes us DISTINCT.”
in this vivid description and analysis given by the great African writer OLA ROTIMI we Africans have a tradition to continue the good works of our forefathers.
But my experience in Cairo, Egypt is nothing to write home to my ancestors about.
If Kwame Nkrumah and his wife Fathia Nkrumah (An Egyptian woman) and Gamel Abdul Nasser can read and hear my wailing from beyond, I want you to turn your backs. Because our work and toil of African Unity is totally wasted.
If an indigenous African, born and bred and survived on this land decides to transit through Egypt on my way to a far away land of (Mopeds) Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, have I done anything sacrilegious?
Oh hell no.... the ancestors who shed their blood for our land will say.
The ghosts of Kwame Nkrumah and Gamel Abdul Nasser will not think so.
But what happened to me on the 9th of July 2008 en route to Bangkok, Thailand to Vietnam is or was the worst nightmare a BLACK SKIN AFRICAN person like me could ever imagine happening to him or her in Africa. (The Dark Continent)
Upon arrival at 06:30 am Local time in Cairo, we were shuffled to a transit hall near gate 1 and our passports taken from us under the explanation that they were working on transit visas for us and the process will take an hour.
It was well understood, but after two hours of absolute disregard and utter silence, I approached the officials who took our passports, one of the officials said I should wait another hour.
Under my own eyes, I just saw some few Persian looking passengers and some few Caucasians gently asked to come closer to the desk and they were issued a hotel and food voucher and gently led away by another young official away from the rest of us.
I immediately asked why they were being given accommodation and not me and other passengers languishing in the messy transit hall.
One of the gentlemen said I should exercise patience for another hour.
I was so pissed off that I had to leave their presence to avoid losing my temper.
I went to the next level where I went to hide in a corner behind an electronic shop and laid my head on my backpack and fell asleep for two hours.
I woke up and realized the time was almost midday and rushed downstairs to the transit area thinking I had missed my opportunity to be checked into a hotel.
When I got to the Egyptian official he just told me, “your passport is not ready”.
Then I saw another Ghanaian young man also demanding the same answers I was, and another one joined us and we started demanding to be taken to a hotel immediately to take a shower.
When it became evident that the three of us were becoming very loud and very embarrassing to the Egyptian officials, they quickly issued a voucher for us and gave us a young Egyptian lady to lead us out of the airport terminal to catch a shuttle bus to NOVOTEL Hotel.
At this point we were three (3) guys and a young Togolese lady with her young daughter of about 4 years old.
Upon reaching NOVOTEL, we were rudely turned away because there was no vacancy.
And the bus driver who brought us to the hotel was no where to be found.
When I inquired I was told he is praying and we need to wait for a while.
In the mean time the WICKED Egyptian sun was burning us like a toast of morning bread in an electric toaster.
When we finally got back to the Egypt Air “CUSTOMER SERVICE” counter at the airport, a female employee who said she was the supervisor was trying to be brutish towards our predicament.
Ooh heavens did I lost my temper, I yelled at her and she immediately directed us to another “CUSTOMER SERVICE” office one level below the departure lounge and we went to see the Transit Manager BASEM MAHDY who issued us another voucher to Le Passage Hotel after speaking to the Hotel and confirming there is vacancy for us.
We left the airport for the second time and went to Le Passage Hotel, and upon our arrival in a Nissan Mini Bus, a young man in a funny looking tall hat came rushing towards us before we could step at the doorstep of the Hotel and started screaming “no room, no room, go back to the airport.
Wow... wow... wow..
We all couldn't believe it....
At this point I knew this was a daylight racism and discrimination against the black color.
DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! Kwame Nkrumah I said, Damn you Kwame Nkrumah for believing that African Unity was possible...
How FALSE, and how WRONG could Nkrumah be?
Someone tell me, I'm I just being too melodramatic?
When we got back to the airport again, and went to see Basem Mahdy, he was totally confused and taken aback himself by the hotel's decision to deny us accommodation.
Ooh then did Osman and myself went totally berserk in the office on the two managers, and we told them we are been treated this way because we were black Africans. He took a big offense to this and started yelling that I shouldn't say that.
Then I took out my Press ID cards and showed them and promised them I will write about their Racism, Discrimination and Mistreatment and make the whole world know about how rude, mean and surly they are.
All the other workers in the office at this point hurriedly left the office to avoid the embarrassment.
After 20 minutes of heated argument Basem Mahdy called a young man into the office and told us he will take us to a nicer hotel near the Pyramids as a form of compensation and it was nearly 30 minutes drive from the airport.
For heavens sake I didn't know why I believed this man in the first place.
Guess what, the 30 minutes journey took us almost 2 hours to a far away dusty and filthy area near the pyramids to a very crappy hotel whose reception was hot and humid and the front desk officers were using papers to fan themselves.
Ooh what a compensation that was... haa
My new found friends in this disaster and myself declined to stay in the hotel and hopped back unto the bus for another 1:30 minutes drive back to the “CAIRO SHITHOLE AIRPORT”
( no apologies for my language)
Upon seeing us, Basem almost broke down, and we decided we won't talk to anyone and just demanded our passports back.
While waiting, Osman and myself went to get some pizza to kill our dry hunger.
When Basem saw us, he walked towards us and told us to wait for him while he arranges VIP Lounge vouchers for us and some food.
After nine (9) awful hours of nightmare in this deserted country of Egypt, we were allowed to go upstairs to the so called VIP Lounge.
How ridiculous.. we were offered a box of fast food from “Le Passage Hotel” (How Ironic).
End of part one of the Miseries...
Two (2) hours prior to departure we were informed that our flight to Bangkok will be delayed for another three (3 ) hours.
Finally, when the voyage to Bangkok took off, it was a great relief for us all.
But guess what, my connecting flight on Vietnam Airlines to Ho Chi Minh City left because of the Egypt Air delay and I had to find my way to catch Thai Airways to Ho Chi Minh City and mine oh mine what a hustle it was.
All these while I couldn't find my luggage. When I asked, I was told Egypt Air will locate it for me later.
When I got to Ho Chi Minh City the Vietnam Airlines connecting flight to my final destination Nha Trang also left.
When I confronted the officials at the desk of Vietnam Airlines, they told me Egypt Air is liable for my missed flights and I should find myself a hotel in the city to spend the night.
Now, I knew I was in a “SHIT HOLE” because of Egypt Air.
On my return journey, I thought things will be much easier because I had sent an email to Basem Mahdy (email@example.com) informing him about my transit again and he should do his best to facilitate a smooth transit and more so to avoid the previous predicament.
We arrived from Bangkok at 5:30 am Cairo time on the 19th of July 2008 and we were shuttled again to the same transit hall.
When some of the officials saw me, they started smiling and saying my friend, my friend...
I told them, for the second time I don't expect to be mistreated.
Ooh how naive and wrong was I
It didn't take 20 minutes when they started the selective process of sifting through the passengers for the Persians and the Caucasians.
I didn't let them finish when I started demanding my hotel vouchers.
After 5 hours at the transit hall and with the moral support of other Ghanaians in transit from Dubai, we started demanding our hotel vouchers and I told them my previous experience and they narrated similar experiences to me.
After we have been through three (3) checkpoints on our way out, a group of custom officials just decided to stop us and do another check on our hand luggage we were carrying to the hotel.
When I asked them why another check on our bags, one of them just yelled at us in Arabic with the back of his hands towards us and said to me in horrible English, “because I am customs I can check you anytime”. (You Customs officials at Cairo Airport: Get off your nasty Arabian horse and get a life. Asshole)
When we got to Le Passage Hotel, we were directed to a secluded corner and not the main front desk.
When I saw the number of BLACK people in a queue with young and old all struggling to get a hotel room, I devised a plan and left the queue secretly and went straight to the main front desk and turned on my LAFA (Locally Acquired Foreign Accent) in this case an American accent and I told the gentleman I'm a journalist and have been specifically directed by Basem to be given special treatment because I need to email my report ASAP. In the mean time I was flashing Basem's complimentary card in front of the young man.
He quickly redirected me to a lady with the name tag MONA who gave me room number 3026.
My Magic worked and I got myself a room. Oh my Gosh...
I quickly went to get some breakfast, went to take a quick shower, and took a quick nap.
Meanwhile, on my way to my room, I saw most of my BLACK Brethren still in a queue waiting for their rooms.
When I woke up and went to the restaurant to take my lunch, the young man decided to take me outside the restaurant to go eat under the canopy and I told him I will not and I went back into the main hall and demanded a table which was available.
The reason why he decided to take me outside to eat instead of the main restaurant is a good guess for everyone.
The food was cold and tasteless anyway. I didn't eat the food but ate the fried chicken and left the rest for their pathetic ass to eat.
My biggest displeasure about this nightmare is that when my colleagues and I complained we were told we should go lodge our complaint and displeasure at the Accra office of EGYPT AIR.
Can you believe such an insult?
I will be unfair if I say all the workers at Cairo Airport were rude and racist.
There's one particular gentleman called Nasser who was EXTREMELY helpful and kind towards us. Anytime I approached him, he will talk to his colleagues in whatever language they were speaking (didn't care to know) and the next thing that happens is I see him coming back to me to give me an assurance that everything will be alright.
Why can't 30% at least of the workers be like this man Nasser?
Aboard the flight to Accra, I asked the flight attendant for a blanket and she told me emphatically there was no blanket on board.
But when I got up to check the upper compartments myself, I found blankets carefully tucked in a corner of one of the cabinets and I took one myself.
Are we being considered less human than these Egyptians or are we just being BOLDLY insulted?
I think EGYPT AIR and the officials at CAIRO “ SHIT HOLE AIRPORT” don't deserve to be operating in Ghana and for that matter be considered as a genuine airline to operate anywhere in the world.
From my own experience and from the anecdotes from other passengers, it is evident that, Egypt Air deliberately concocted a scheme to deny and abuse passengers from black Africa especially Ghana and Nigeria and also not inform the passengers about their benefits during transit in Cairo.
What I observed is that most Ghanaians transiting didn't even know they are entitled to accommodation and food while in transit.
How sad can we be?
Do we have consumer protection agencies or advocates in Ghana to help us out?
I think Egypt Air is a SHIT HOLE AIRLINE
EGYPT AIR is a RACIST AIRLINE
EGYPT AIR IS A JUNK AIRLINE
They don't deserve to operate in my country.
If the toils and sacrifices of our founding father OSAGYEFO KWAME NKRUMAH could be denigrated like this, how much more evidence do we need to ground this foolish airline.
My questions to you Chairman and CEO of Egypt Air are;
• DO YOU HAVE ANY FUCKING CLUE ABOUT HOW YOUR WORKERS TREAT PASSENGERS AT THE TRANSIT HALL?
• DO YOU HAVE ANY FUCKING CLUE ABOUT HOW RACIST YOUR STAFF TREAT BLACK PASSENGERS?
• 3. DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY WE THE NEGRO PASSENGERS MAKE FOR YOU?
If you are able to answer these questions, then you can swallow your shame and get a life worth living in that “shithole” you call an airport.
Have a miserable life.