Primus, the most ubiquitous and popular beer in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is more than just a sought-after brand of brew -- it's a "source of national pride." The Congo-based company and subsidiary of Heineken that produces Primus, Bralima, has been around since the Belgian colonial period, and Primus has reigned supreme since Congo's independence in 1960. "Primus played a central role in the new country, even basing its logo off the national flag," write Jason Miklian and Peer Schouten in their article for Foreign Policy, "Fluid Markets."
But as Miklian and Schouten detail, beer trade in the DRC can be a complicated business. In a country wracked with violence and warfare, neither Primus's popularity or the Congolese culture of celebrities who drink (and promote) the beer have kept it far from turmoil. Indeed violence escalated once again as recently as late August after U.N. troops and the Congolese Army launched an attack, attempting to drive M23 rebels from Goma, a city of about one million people in eastern Congo on the volatile border with Rwanda.
Whether it's outsourced distributors paying off armed men at road blockades in order to ensure safe passage for Primus's yellow-and-blue trucks or Bralima having to operate its breweries and business in and around rebel-controlled cities, Primus, like most other things in Congo, exists within a world of conflict.