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The great ‘Bin Laden scone debate’

 The Big Issue Malawi 27 June 2019

When the news broke that world’s most famous terrorist had been killed, bakers in Malawi were left with a problem: should they change the title of the popular product named in his honour? (579 Words) - By Prisca Nyirenda

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BI Malawi_The great ‘Bin Laden scone debate’ 1

Osama bin Laden is shown in this video frame grab released by the U.S. Pentagon May 7, 2019.Photo: REUTERS/Ho New

BI Malawi_The great ‘Bin Laden scone debate’ 2

The Bin Laden scone is a big hit in Malawi.Photo courtesy of The Big Issue Malawi


Osama Bin Laden was a notorious figure, one known in every corner of the globe. Less well known is the fact that some Malawian businesses, especially those involved in the baking of scones, decided to name one of their products after the infamous terrorist - a product loved by Malawians right up to the day of the announcement that Bin Laden had been killed.

So will the product change its name or will things remain as before? Moses Kapengule, one of the 'Bin Laden' vendors, believes that the product's name should live on because, he says, the man who inspired it was a well liked figure.

"Owners of the bakeries decided to give this name to one of their scones because Osama Bin Laden was very popular," says Kapengule. "If the owners of the bakeries decide to change it, business will be affected. People are used to the name 'Bin Laden'. If the name changes a lot of people will get confused."

Victor Kaipa agrees. He is a Bin Laden consumer, and he too says that other customers are fond of the scone because it carries the former international terrorist's name.

"I think that the name 'Bin Laden' should continue. If this name disappears, it's just as if the history of Bin Laden - the man - disappears too. As a result, [future generations] will not know anything about this man.

"The name Bin Laden contributed positively to the development of the product. As a result, people started asking for them. At the end of the day, due to this reason, we make a lot of sales."

Sylvester Million is another fan of the Bin Laden scone who believes that the product's name should not be changed since it has a positive effect on sales.

"The name should remain because everybody knows that Osama Bin Laden was a hero. Apart from this, the changing of the name will affect many Malawian businesses.

"Besides, the price of this product is fair to everybody. Instead of us buying a loaf of bread at K120, we were buying this scone at K20."

When approached for a comment, Fletcher Nkoko, one of the Bin Laden vendors, said that there is no way that the bakeries will consider changing the product name because the businesses depend on these sales.

"We have been selling these for years now and a lot of people used to buy this product. They buy them because they are good. When people eat a Bin Laden, they are satisfied with it."

Nkoko adds: "The scones were sold at a cheaper price which everyone was able to afford. They are loved by many, and if this name is changed, our business will be affected because our customers will not recognize it."

Although support for the Bin Laden name remains strong, there are some who feel that the time is right for a change. Bakery production manager Dinesh Kumar falls on this side of the controversy. "I do not think it would be proper for us, in the baking trade, to use this name for one of our scones. It will create a negative attitude towards our products," he warns.

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