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Go for Nature, not for Coke!

By July 2, 2013June 6th, 2023No Comments

Sunday 30th June 2013

It was maybe 1957. I don’t exactly remember the first time I went to Mutorere Catholic Church (M.C.C) for mass, instead of Kinoni (K.C.C). But we usually went to Mutorere since it was nearer our home right at the foot of Mt. Muhabura, but never forgot our Kinoni, in Rwanda.

But, personally, I preferred Mutorere, in Uganda. And the reason had zero to do with distance.

It had everything to do with Gisoro. Gisoro boasted benefits that you could not get in Rwanda –benefits of gastronomic interest. If you are Catholic, you remember that this was an epoch when the faithful could not eat or drink anything before Holy Communion. So, whenever we came out of church, we were hungrier than a church mouse.

But, whereas from Kinoni we passed through homes whose hosts were always ready to refresh our stomachs, in Uganda you could not trust anyone. Anyone who knows Bufumbira, the area around Gisoro, will tell you that it is notorious for its poison-dispensers.

I can’t vouch for the veracity of it, but it’s said that young Bafumbira wo/men who join secondary school in other areas of Uganda never dare to venture back. Bufumbira is ensconced between Burera, in Rwanda, and Jomba area, in D.R. Congo.

But Mutorere….. From Mutorere after church, we always skipped the shortcut to our home and walked through Gisoro. There to feast on sweets, cakes and Cokes. Now, Coca Cola. There were other sodas but I don’t remember anybody taking any other soda – not that they are any better, anyway.

It’s this craze over Coke and such other imported liquids that I can’t fathom. Are today’s kids equally afflicted by this lure?

Because, you must’ve heard, when Coke was first put together, it served as medicine. It was syrup, made out of extracts of cocaine and a caffeine-rich kola nut, to calm pain. And, who knows, maybe today it still has traces of cocaine and caffeine. Or else, why should its original syrup be a secret? Why did we crave that high that we got out of a bottle?

No wonder, after consuming it, we used to suddenly turn into chatterboxes!

In case you don’t remember the story of Coca Cola, last May it celebrated its 127th birthday. In the 1880s, for long Dr. John Pemberton agonised over what he could do to help his patients who complained about not getting a relaxer to calm their headaches, in his pharmacy.

So, he decided to get a few hours every day to sit down behind his pharmacy and try mixing up something. He got his three-legged kettle and everyday put together concoctions but none satisfied him.

Then one day, when he tasted one he’d put together, he felt relaxed immediately. On 8th May 1886, it was put on the market in Jacob’s Pharmacy as Coca Cola. About nine servings of the drink were sold each day and by the close of that year, the sales amounted to $50. A big loss, considering that Pemberton had all together spent $70 in developing the syrup!

Happily, he was able to find a client for his formula and got rid of it. But, unknown to him, in Asa Candler he’d found nothing less than dynamite. Candler formed the Coca Cola Company and aggressively marketed Coke, with advertisements and all gimmicks available then. By 1900 he’d increased syrup sales by 4000%.

Within no time, the drink was sold across the United States and Canada. From there, the company started selling syrup to independent bottling companies in the world. Today, the soft drink industry is organised on this principle. Products of the Coca Cola Company are consumed at the rate of more than one billion drinks a day and they rake in billions upon billions of dollars.

The carbonated soft drink is sold in every country of the world except Cuba and North Korea. This duo is thought to be rogue states by almost all countries of the world, but imagine it.

You, here in Rwanda, have ripe banana in abundance. You have pineapple, passion, mango, orange, lemon, pawpaw, all types of fruit from which to extract lots of juice. Yes, we sell the juice directly. But maybe we can be a tad more creative. With only little research, hired if necessary, syrup from each of these fruits can be developed.

We wouldn’t even need to patent it; it’s Nature’s gift. We’d simply sell the syrup on the cheap, with its tropical freshness. Bottling companies of the winter-washed world of the temperate zones will gobble it up, no doubt about it.

Instead of selling juice, we should churn out syrup and put it on an industrial scale. Then we can usurp the addictive effects of Coke and related liquids of the temperate zones. Only then shall we cease to walk around like zombies, higher than kites, from consuming cocaine, caffeine and whatever their other associated substances that maybe therein contained.

Maybe Cuba and North Korea are considered insane exactly because they knew this bit, before we caught on!

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