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17 Jul 2008 00:00
OK. It’s official.
I am a diabetic.
And diabetes is an epidemic: your cat has it and does not know; India thinks it is marching to the First World, but it will crash and slump into a diabetic coma because call centres are busy creating sugar dreams in their early morning American-accent lessons. Ohhh honey, sugar, sugar, sweetie, sugah-cake, honeypaaa —
Being an African intellectual, I must first connect sugar to Colonialism. In Kenda Mutongi’s sublime history book, Worries of the Heart, she talks about the attempts by the Quakers to get the Maragoli people in Kenya to buy into their idea of God. All efforts failed. Until they started to serve tea with sugar. Soon, people were hooked and were in church every day and looking for work to support a sugar and tobacco habit.
Today, there are old Maragoli grannies who light a cigarette, put the lit side into their mouths, and smoke away, while riding a bicycle.
In case you did not know, today, Kenya has the largest community of Quakers in the world. All this because of sugar. Maragoli Quakers populate literature departments and publishing houses. Also many amazing Kenyan writers: Andia Kisia, Stanely Gazemba, Kenda Mutongi. All great prose stylists. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the world’s librarian Mafia are Quakers. So, these guys got higher quotas of library books when in school.
We all know, of course, that sugar caused slavery. Yes, and yes and cotton. But sugar — think about it: chocolate, coffee, tea, sugar—plantations.
Sugar, like everything else, was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci. Secret documents that I can reveal will be revealed in The Da Vinci Code Part 3, have shown that Mona Lisa was smiling secretly because she had just sipped the first product of the organic latte machine he had been frenziedly inventing. Da Vinci also invented Colonic Irrigation, Hip-Hop and the Multiple Orgasm 1400.
He was killed by members of the Illuminati when he announced in an Inventorholics Anonymous meeting in Venice that sugar was poison and would infect the whole world.
They injected him with 800 milligrams of finely distilled Austrian white beet extract.
He was found lying on the floor, a mysterious smile on his face.
Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of Everything Else, and the man who moved General Electric to Schenectady, the town I lived in until this spring, tried to create a form of energy out of sugar that he claimed rivals electricity — it was to be called Confectionery—
But, General Electric’s board had a member of the secretive Tongaat-Hullett family—Percival Tongaat-Hullett. He received death threats and the board quickly decided to make a company subsidiary that made sweet, swirly, baked things — to keep Mrs Violet Tongaat-Hullett happy.
She liked baking. It was called the Confectionery Project.
Few people know that the British anti-slavery movement began with a meeting of three diabetics for tea and sugarfree crumpets. William Wilberforce, who first proposed the idea that slavery was evil because it helped manufacture sugar, was one of only 15 people in Britain who was not addicted to it. He hated it virulently. His mother had once thrust his head into a bowl of icing-sugar and forced him to inhale.
Most people know that Coca-Cola once had cocaine in it; what they don’t know is that it still has sugar.
Angelina Jolie wants to adopt a gingerbread child. They bought a gingerbread house near a bakery in some secret location in France.
But seriously: cane sugar was first used in Polynesia and travelled to India. Nauru, an island in the Pacific, is wealthy because of the generations of bird shit that has accumulated on the island. Because of this they spend all day watching American cable television and eating. They have the highest rates of diabetes in the world, renal failure and heart disease.
Venice built its power on sugar, silk and spices. The first industrial sugar refinery was built by the Arabs on the island of Crete. They also invented caramel—which was used by harem women to remove body hair—
“Who has been licking my exfoliator! Fatima, you have a caramel moustache on your upper lip!”
When you spend a lot of time at airport lobbies, rushing to finish your column in cafes that serve confectionery and chocolate and cinnamon and sugar, sugar, sugar, you find yourself unable to care about the state of Africa, or democracy in Zimbabwe.
Sigh. I want some of that cake.
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