Herbal Porridge, Lankan style: Have a Kola Kenda and a Smile!

Kola Kenda - herbal porridge, Lankan style


Have a Kola Kenda and a Smile!

That was the – not very original – slogan I coined 30 years ago as a school boy to promote and popularise kola kenda, the Lankan version of herbal porridge.

I’ve always been an ardent eater of green leaves and veggies (isn’t everybody?). So I didn’t need any special persuasion to drink kola kenda.

Most of my peers didn’t share this enthusiasm. They didn’t mind the taste, but the whole thing seemed too old fashioned. Self-respecting teenagers shouldn’t be seen drinking a favourite of their grandparents, they argued.

As often happened, I disagreed. Not only did I take delight in partaking my kola kenda, but also kept trying to convince my peers that, hey, kola kenda was cool.

First I tried the rational, evidence-based approach. I found out as much as I could about kola kenda and distilled it into a few non-technical, non-preachy lines. I wrote about in our school magazine, spoke about it at the school assembly, and seized every other opportunity to plug the green stuff.

I must have been around 15 or 16 years old at the time, but even then, I realised kola kenda had an image problem. So — following the golden advice, “Don’t just sit there; do something!” — I tried to improve it.

I abbreviated kola kenda to KK. I designed a stylish logo for it, independent of any corporate branding. Adapting a popular tag-line for Coca Cola at the time, I even came up with the slogan, “Have a KK – and a smile!”

None of this really worked; after six months, I gave up being the kola kenda evangelist. But that campaign earned me an inevitable nickname: kola-kendaya.

I was proud of it then as I’m now.

Years later, when I started running my own household, I realized making kola kenda is a tedious process. So, despite being a life-long kola-kendaya, I don’t make it too often.

Kola Kenda, CBL style!

That’s why I’m very grateful to Ceylon Biscuits Limited — a leading food products company — for introducing Herbal Porridge powder, which comes in easy-to-prepare packs. Simply mix the powdered content with water, boil or microwave, and in three minutes we get a fairly authentic kola kenda.

I’m all for modernising traditional recipes: retaining the nutrition and taste, while reducing the drudgery. That’s just what CBL have done. It comes in five flavours too: gotukola, welpenela, haathawariya, karapincha and mixed herbs.

At LKR 50 (less than US$ 50 cents) per pack of 3 servings, it’s good value for money.

I’m now working on my resident teenager to try it sometime. She’s not yet convinced. I’m hoping that this 21st Century Girl would prove smarter than those ignorant boys who turned their backs to KK 30 years ago…

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From Michael Jackson to K’naan: Anthems for the Global Family?

A song that will outlive the games?

FIFA World Cup Football enters its final few days this week, culminating a month of international football at the highest level.

Played across 10 venues in South Africa, this is much more than a sporting tournament. It’s the ultimate celebration of the world’s most popular sport, held once every four years. More popular than the Olympics, it demonstrates the sheer power of sports and media to bring together – momentarily, at least – the usually fragmented and squabbling humanity.

And one upbeat song has characterised this World Cup more than any other: the FIFA World Cup Anthem, “Wavin’ Flag” (The Celebration Mix). Sung by K’naan (born Keinan Abdi Warsame) a Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist.

It opens with these now famous words:

…Singing forever young, singing songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game,
And together at the end of the day.
We all say
When I get older I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a wavin’ flag…

“Wavin’ Flag” is the third official single (eighth single overall) from K’naan’s Troubadour album. He specially recorded a version of the song for the tournament, hosted by South Africa. The remix of “Wavin’ Flag” is part of Coca-Cola’s global integrated marketing campaign “inspired by the joyous dance celebrations familiar to Africa.”

The song is popping up and pouring out from billions of radio and TV sets, mobile phones, websites and other devices. So much so that I wonder if it might as well be our planetary anthem — an idea that some social activists and artistes have dreamed about for decades?

Last year, shortly after Michael Jackson’s sudden death, I wrote a blog post that looked back at his songs that celebrated social and environmental themes. Referring to one, I said: “…the Earth Song had much wider and more lasting appeal, almost becoming an anthem for the global environmental movement in the past decade. But its real impact was not among the converted – with this song, Jackson took the green message to the heartland of the Facebook generation.”

We can argue about that (please do!). For now, here’s the celebrated song, currently the most popular on the planet:

FIFA Wold Cup Anthem “Wavin’ Flag” (The Celebration Mix) by K’naan

Wavin’ Flag lyrics (Celebration Mix) by K’naan

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

Give me freedom, give me fire, give me reason, take me higher
See the champions, take the field now, unify us, make us feel proud
In the streets are, hands are liftin’, as we lose our inhibition
Celebration, its around us, every nations, all around us

Singin’ forever young, singin’ songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game
And together at the end of the day

WE ALL SAY

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

Give you freedom, give you fire, give you reason, take you higher
See the champions, take the field now, unify us, make us feel proud
In the streets are, hands are lifting, every loser inhibition
Celebration, its around us, every nations, all around us

Singin’ forever young, singin’ songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game
And together at the end of the day

WE ALL SAY

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes….

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

WE ALL SAY

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

And everybody will be singin’ it

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

And we are all singin’ it