At least two brand-new bakeries belonging to a Chinese investor have been torched or vandalized by angry customers in South Sudan after the bakery took 1st-January birthday-cake orders but was unable to deliver all 11 thousand of them (plus a promotional free bottle of Champagne per order).
According to the management, it was unaware that over 70% of the population in South Sudan have 1st January as their official birthday.
The new Chinese pastries chain that recently opened shop across most major South Sudanese towns, started promoting and taking orders in December last year promising a free bottle of Champagne and a 31% discount on all birthday cakes. An additional 9% – according to the promotion – will be sliced off the total sum if the payer could prove (with an ID-card) that the cake was for his or her birthday.
The promotion that was broadcasted nationwide over local radio stations quickly got the attention of the 70% plus of the population who celebrate their birthdays on the 1st of January.
All other options considered, the new Chinese bakery appeared to offer the best deal in town – thus up to 11 thousand people are believed to have pre-ordered and received an automatic confirmation via SMS to pick up their cake and free bottle of Champagne on the 1st.
“The scene was chaotic… the queue quickly grew as thousands parked their cars along the road expecting to do a quick pick-up of their cakes.. that was when people started getting agitated…”
The Chinese managers of these bakeries have been taken by authorities ‘for their own protection’.
Speaking to a member of our staff, a manager of one of the vandalized bakeries said “We were told there are a lot of business rules that do not work in South Sudan… we did not anticipate that almost every South Sudanese was born on 1st of January, and 11 thousand of them would order from our bakeries…”
He went on to add that a lot has changed since the dollar was floated, the coming of the SPLM-IO advance team to Juba and the birth of Jesus Christ some 2000 years ago – all seemingly unrelated events but not according to the Chinese calendar.
It is still unclear whether the customers will be compensated, but early indicators suggest that if it happens, it will be the first in South Sudan.