By Ngouadjio Rosita
Good wine needs no bush is a common English expression which simply translates to the fact that a good product is self advertizing. Saparatists have been waging a rather brutal war that targets certain goods perceived by them to be produced by “foreign enemy” interests. Naturally, one would have expected the producers of the said goods to throw out the scores of Anglophone staff this multinational employs in every echelon and close down its facilities in the two Regions. But no! On the contrary, every single one of them has been taken off harm’s way, transferred to safer territory with their salaries and other emoluments maintained.
One would have thought that other multinational companies in the same business would take advantage of the “shortfall” and do brisk business. But no! What one sees are substandard substitutes being shipped in from a neighbouring country and dumped in the two regions. These products are as dirt cheap as they are dubious in quality. A bottle or can of what is imported sells for less than half of what the “banned drinks” sell for. Yet, a kind of “intra smuggling” is currently going on because faithful consumers of the “banned” products are determined to break difficult barriers to drink what they have known to be qualitative for many decades. And they do so despite the prohibitive costs and dangers involved.
Ironically, it is the “unbanned” producers that are retrenching and selling their separatist favoured products with lots of difficulties. And this “fight” is by no means related to the fight of the cokes in America and other Western countries. Far from it. Recently, the saparatists’ destruction capabilities have been weakened as they themselves secretly go for quality. Hence the gradual easing of the gaseous version of the “banned” products into the open market.
The snag however, is that the company that should have grabbed the market advantage is virtually at sea. In Buea for example, their piled up products are shunned, the negative propaganda notwithstanding, in preference for the people’s “banned choice.”
By the way, gaseous drinks have constituted the economy of Cameroon for a very long period now. Youths enjoy taking them either for fun, leisure, pleasure or for pride. The gaseous drinks produced before the 21st centuries were mostly conserved in a glass form and they were so good that it was consumed by infants, youths and the aged. A keen example is the emergence of Les Brasseries du Cameroon’s “Top” products in the country with a variety of flavours including, Top Ananas, Top Orange, Top Grenadine, Top Pamplemouse and a lot more whose qualities were breathtaking. For decades they have been consumed and sold successfully with practically no complaints.
The two main brewery industries in the country which produce soft, gaseous drinks for years now are Les Brasseries du Cameroun as mentioned above, and lately ‘Source du Paye. ‘Source du Paye’ has as main drink the mineral water it produces, ‘Supermont’, which at some point in time along with Tangui monopolized the mineral water market.
Furthermore, keeping these aside, let’s take a close look at what ‘Source du Paye’ produces as gaseous and energetic drinks. Examples abound but suffice to mention the well known ‘Planet’, ‘American cola’, ‘Bubble Up,’ ‘Reacktor’ and ‘Super Jus’ as non gaseous drinks and many more. For more than five years now these drinks have been consumed with no complaints too as one may say. But let’s talk about planet’s new brand, the ‘Geant bottles’.
These same gaseous drinks are being produced, processed and sold by ‘Sources du Paye.’ Upon production, it made massive sales as one may say, because it was far bigger (1.25l), than the other 1l drinks produced but, surprisingly sold at the same price with the others. Isn’t that just so amazing? For a period of almost more than a year or two now it has been consumed but the sweetness and ‘gombo’ or ‘njor’ that accompanies it is kind of turning heads one way or the other. Surprisingly the same drink ‘Sources du Paye produces using its own very popular mineral water is as heavily consumed as is Tangui.
A close investigation especially around Buea proves that many denizens are falling head over toes for the Top brands despite the “ban.”They talk of both the imported drinks and other gaseous products as being highly toxic whatever that means. Controversially still, others refer to them as just a mixture of water, colour and added sugar. They want a rethink by those banning and unbanning products so that they can have their money and palate worth of drinks.
As earlier hinted, millions of bottles of the imported stuff and others considered not in good taste or quality are stocked in stores around Molyko, Bonduma, and Sandpit and are not being bought perhaps because of the doubtful quality with which the products are attributed. Some say: “I cannot drink this and will never permit my kids to drink this because it is no drink but poison. It is just coloured water; a mixture of water, flavour and sugar. These drinks are practically not being consumed over here. Some sellers after they are bought again exclaim “oh, finally you have been bought again”. Some sellers use the said drinks to quench their thirst when they feel thirsty because they all claim they may not be bought if they don’t do so.
UB JOURNALISM STUDENT ON INTERNSHIP