Coca Cola and the Nigerian Muslims


Muhammad Mahmud



Instead of drinking Coca Colas, turn on the tap and drink what the good Lord gave us (Edwina Currie- British politician and novelist)


When I first saw the gigantic 36.5ft Christmas tree erected by the coca cola Bottling company at the national theatre, iganmu, Lagos, on the pages of newspapers, what came to my mind was why should a “national” theatre be Christianized by a business institution which is not even supposed to have a religion going by the maxim that “a company has no religion”. But I quickly reasoned that although Muslims are in the majority there, Lagos has a substantial number of Christians to prompt coca-cola into such act presumably to woo more customer. There is nothing wrong about that provided that the company cared to extend such compliment or its kind to the Muslims, I thought.


But when, later in the evening, I bought a bottle of coca-cola I was perplexed by what I saw on the lid of the bottle; a smiling (but surprisingly black) Santa Claus, popularly known as father Christmas. This made me enquire from friends across the country whether any of them came across a happy sallah or any complement to Muslims during our two festivals in the year from the company similar to what is happening now. The answer was of course, negative. I, then, started wondering what coca-cola is up to. Maybe it has been merged with church, I concluded.


 Insensible of what the Nigerian Muslims might feel the company displayed an unambiguous inclination towards a certain faith. This is of course perilous for any serious business organization.


I may likely not be faulted if I accuse coca-cola of trying to proselytize Christianity in Nigeria under the guise of marketing strategy.


Had the company cared to extend same or similar gesture to the over 85 million Nigerian Muslims during any of their festivals nobody will raise an eyebrow.


Perhaps the imbalance silently suffered by the Nigerian Muslims in most of the services and/or operation of most of public institutions, like Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and many other public institutions, fooled coca-cola into believing that the Muslims are indifferent to whatever puckishness done to them.


Some years back, some people came up with a terribly convincing, albeit debatable, revelation that the trade mark name of coca-cola actually means no Muhammad no Mecca in Arabic when you upturned the trade  mark name. In other words the coca-cola trade mark name turns to an Arabic word if overturned and it was calligraphically written as “la Muhammad la makka” meaning no  Muhammad no Mecca.


The controversy that the company found itself, in the Muslim countries, over this issue which was widely regarded as an insult to the Islamic faith ought to have taught them a lesson about how serious the Muslims regard their religion. But it appears the company doesn’t care.


Not that it might bother the company if the Nigerian muslims decided to steer away from its products, the over 85 million Nigerian Muslims can reciprocate coca-cola by shunning all its product if there is no apology or a convincing explanation from the company.