Cinderella dress, plastic shoes, pussy cat hairdo, face shining bright like a diamond and a bright red sweater that matched with everyone in the family; these were all the requirements we needed for a good day at Uhuru Park that always happened on Sundays after church. Mum would pack a bag full of snacks and would pass by our shop and pick soda. My little brother and I because we were the youngest, we would have Fanta orange no questions asked. I think if you search hard enough there is a law somewhere that dictates that children under the age of ten can not and shall not be given a drop of any other type of soda. The rest of the family could chose and we mostly ended up with 3 cokes, 2 fantas and a krest or ginger ale depending on how my father’s throat commanded that day. We passed through town to buy ‘kuku za kuzunguka’ these are otherwise known as grilled chicken. A day out without soda, chips and chicken, would actually rain. Just check to make sure your family did not cause the El-Nino because of their very many acts of disobedience for Mother Nature and Nairobi culture.
The games we had with our sodas were numerous. Anything from sipping with the longest straw, shaking and seeing who’s would pour more when the bottle would finally be opened, taking Coke very fast without it coming out of your nose. There were cocktails that almost always had Coke in them but this is after you have lingered around the grown-ups an hour too long. They would fill an eighth of your cup with coke and fill it up with your fanta and the slight change in color of your new beverage would mesmerize you so much that you could not help but ‘shadow madow’ people who had their drinks in the usual colors.
What didn’t we use the Coca-Cola tops/bota/pekele for? Tires for our milk carton cars, shakers for music class,for that game where we would punch two holes, pass a string through and rotate it so tight so that when you pull it apart it would produce a very peculiar sound. The bullies would come and just do that next to your ear and the chances of coming out of that situation without a painful nick was very rare.
There was this time Coca-cola had a game of sorts where you would open a soda and remove the white part on the top and find a prize you’ve won. As children we were very interested in the bottle tops that won us soda than anything else. You would find that top (pekele) and you and your ten friends would go claim that soda from the distributor like the world was coming to an end. That soda would be taken by all of you because it was very rare to find a person who found a winning bottle top on his own. It would pre-occupy your brain so much that you would be the events go-to person. You knew when your church was having a party, when your neighbor 3km away was having their birthday party and took offense when they failed to invite you, you knew who was marrying who and when.
Coca-Cola gave us a very happy childhood, one that fills us with nostalgia when we take a soda. I would not replace a childhood with any other. Share happiness by sharing a coke #shareacoke.