Book Review: In The Land of Kitchen, by Oluoch Madiang'

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inthelandofthekitchen1_255406142.jpgThe creativity of the story is announced right at the beginning; “In the land of the Kitchen, utensils lived in peace and harmony. They were a loving community who believed in unity and team work. Sufuria, the saucepan, was always the first to wake up and she never forgot to carry her sister, water.”

The use of local words like Sufuria, Jiko, Mwiko is another aspect that makes it a story to behold as our very own. The way Oluoch paints the picture; “Sufuria was pounded by Mwiko when making Ugali and she only sighed” leaves us wondering how he came up with such a story based in the kitchen and giving each of the utensils such life and character… especiallty, taking into consideration that he is a man!I was also pleasantly surprised by the use of words such as ‘dungilia’ (poke) and finyilia (press) which are sheng slang words.

The use of song also worked well together during the related eating process of spaghetti. The illustrations, by talented Lucas Wambaa, are also exceptional.

“Later, Spoon and Knife would volunteer to scratch the backs of Sufuria and Mwiko. Plate would hold some water for spoon and fork to swim. Everyone would be massaged by towel.”

Imagine that! Conflict arises one day when Mwiko loses his temper and calls Sufuria’s kids ‘stupid’ because they were making noise. Sufuria gets angry and calls Mwiko ‘a skinny piece of wood.’ Mwiko’s cousin, Mop, joins in to defend his own but then Frying Pan, Sufuria’s cousin joins in the verbal exchange calling Mop a ‘shaggy waste eater’.

Soon, everybody is arguing with everybody and nobody is listening to anybody. Check this out:

“Salt-shaker jumped in the air and landed a Kungfu kick on Sugardish who retaliated with a karate chop, Knife sharpened himself and began to hiss…”

What began as an exchange between Sufuria and Mwiko became a war in the land of the kitchen. The children of the utensils became confused, and each of them seemed to think they understood why their parents were fighting and began accusing each other, eventually ending up fighting themselves.

It is when Jerry Can falls and gets injured that the situation worsens; Kerosene leaks onto the floor and Matchbox who was ‘pregnant with twins’ collides with Knife, causing Baby stick to fall on Kerosene sparking off a fire. Instead of figuring what to do, they continue bashing and blaming each other.

My favourite part of the story is when Chapati Pan tries to shield Rolling Pin from the flames even as Sufuria asks her to protect her own metal kind.

This inspires Sugardish and Saltshaker who screech and cling to each other, lauding Chapati Pan as a hero. Too bad they all eventually burn in the fire…except for Flower Vase (now narrating the story), who manages to escape to a camp for the internally displaced!

Points to Ponder within the story give it an interactive edge, which leads the reader to thik about development in a practical way.

In The Land of Kitchen may be a children’s book, but don’t be surprised if you give it to your adult friends and hear them laughing until they cling to their hips. I feel that everyone will find this book hilarious and want to own it.

Like many other good stories, there are plenty of lessons to be learned -it is relevant, for example to the recent post-election violence, and would come in handy in discussions on the implications of conflict and how to avoid it.

If you have a nephew, niece, brother, sister, or an adult who loves a good story, how about letting them In the Land of the Kitchen?

 

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