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My Sobolo

I have been very sullen virtually this whole week.  Truly, I am perturbed.  You see, they told me fizzy drinks weren’t good; I absolutely halted their consumption.  They convinced me that those in packs, claiming to be pure juice, weren’t what they seemed to be.

I stopped consuming them.  Then they introduced me to what they named, Sobolo. It was such a “cure” for parched throats.  Of course, the health benefits were amazing.  I fell in love with it and have never looked back. So why are they now telling me to desist from drinking Sobolo?  Why?  I have been sad all week.

I am not the kind of person who easily succumbs to certain ideologies and beliefs.  I mentally weigh, process, analyze and really assess if whatever idea being sold me is good, before committing to its intake.  So when I was introduced to Sobolo, I was a bit sceptical about even sipping the drink whose colour is nothing but deep red.

“Ablah, don’t doubt me.  Trust me … this drink cures high cholesterol,  high blood pressure, common cold, aging, weight loss, digestive problems; depression, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and liver disease. Just taste it,” said Mary convincingly. 

She is the popular caterer at my church; a very talented woman who is graciously skilled at what she does.  I had a bad cold at the time she was coaxing me to sip Sobolo for the first time.  The first sip was with a frown.  But it tasted nice.  I took a second bout. 

By my third attempt, I could almost immediately feel all blocked passages in my respiratory organs clearing.  “Sobolo, it shall be!”  I yelled at Mary, nodding in approval of her conversion.  There and then, I ordered a gallon of the juice from her. 

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And my refrigerator has never lacked stock of the sap, which is made from the hibiscus plant.  In fact, by my second month of constantly patronising the beverage, I had learnt how to make it myself.

My preparation has always been simple.  I hear some boil the leaves to get the juice.  But I put the leaves into a big bowl, pour boiling water on them and allow to sit for over an hour to ensure proper brewing.

I then make some syrup from sugar, mix into the brewed juice, and add food flavouring of my choice.  In some cases, I cut apples, cucumber or melons into the cooled juice, to chew along as I drink.  Its chilled state is fabulous.

I love Sobolo.  In Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria, it’s served cold.  In Egypt however, it’s served warm. Agh, fancy a sweating-chilled bottle of sobolo with a tasty crunchy fish pie on a hot afternoon.  My toddlers take some to school, Obodai’s snack pack always has a bottle or two.  It’s become a family delight.

A Whatsapp message I received on Sunday afternoon from a friend, who had also received it from someone, has been my source of worry. 

The message was so convincing, I have had to pause drinking the hibiscus juice at once. So did my family members.  If you don’t mind, let me post the message here:

“According to my renal team of doctors at the Renal Dialysis Unit at KBTH, the plant used for the preparation of "Sobolo" drink causes Kidney disease. So please stay away from Sobolo drink. However, the main causes of Renal Failure in Ghana are uncontrolled Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Nephrotic syndrome, severe anaemia, hepatitis B, and HIVAN (HIV Associated Nephropathy).

But please stay away from Sobolo and persistent intake of medications like Brufen (Ibuprofen) because they cause direct damage to the kidneys.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is killing lots of people of all ages in Ghana. The main treatment in Ghana is putting the patient on sessions of dialysis, especially Haemodialysis (HD) for several months or years. Even that, some (if not most) of them end up dying.

The cost of inserting femoral catheter in the thigh for the initial dialysis is GHC600. The cost of insertion of the neckline for the permanent dialysis is about GHC1,000. One session of dialysis is GHC260 plus the 2 units of blood that the patient has to buy for the dialysis.

A patient can be put on one, two or three sessions of dialysis a week. So if a patient is put on three sessions a week, then he will pay GHC780 a week, not forgetting the blood and drugs that one has to buy. It is an expensive disease. So please stay away from Sobolo drink, persistent intake NJof local medicines, Brufen and alcohol and drug abuse. Good afternoon and stay healthy.”  To end her post, she typed, “copied, not plagiarized.”

“Is this message really true,” I asked the sender.  She claimed her friend who also forwarded it to her said it was from an authentic source. 

In fact, by evening of same day, I had received loads of this same message from various Whatsapp groups and other individuals.  I have asked and asked if really, there’s empiric evidence of the harmful capabilities of Sobolo but no one is giving me any conclusive answer.

I am in a state of limbo; yes, I’m at the dividing line.  To stop consuming it completely?  Oh somebody help me.  Is it really as harmful as its being said it is?  Somebody please educate me.  Pleeeeeeeease.

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