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No, Nairobi’s iconic Hilton Hotel building not bought by Pronto Restaurant

IN SHORT: In recent weeks a claim that the premises belonging to the landmark hotel in the Kenyan capital have been bought by a restaurant chain have travelled quickly on social media. But the image used as evidence has been manipulated.

Located in the middle of Nairobi’s central business district (CBD), the Hilton Hotel has for five decades been a landmark in the Kenyan capital. 

Hilton Hotels and Resorts is a US-owned international brand that has many hotels in various countries.

But in 2022, it was reported that the Nairobi Hilton would shut its doors by the end of that year. Newer reports had it that the parent company would open another restaurant in the country. 

In the early weeks of  2023 there were several claims that the Hilton building had been bought and rebranded by Pronto Restaurant, a restaurant chain with several outlets in Nairobi’s CBD.

Pronto specialises in halal Somali foods. The underlying insinuation in these claims is that the Somali community is taking over hotels in the Kenyan capital. 

Some of these claims have been pushed by prominent figures, including former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko. His posts have received over 10,000 likes.  

Others have also shared the claims on social media, including here, here, and here

Nearly all the claims include a photo of Pronto Restaurant branding on the Hilton building. In the various posts, this photo is captioned with the claim that Pronto has taken over the building as one of its premises.

But is this the case?


Digitally manipulated image

In an 18 January statement, Pronto Restaurant denied this. In a Facebook post it said the poster shared on social media was fake.

It also listed Pronto's five branches, not including the Hilton Hotel building.

Photos of the building taken on 25 January 2023 show no sign of Pronto branding.

We can conclude that the image with the name and logo of Pronto Restaurant on the iconic Hilton Hotel building has been photoshopped. 

Given its landmark status, these claims may also mislead many who rely on it for direction, in addition to promoting negative stereotypes about certain communities, such as Somalians in Kenya. 

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