n Mousaion - Cultural relevance of children's books in Kenya : the case of by Benjamin Wegesa

Volume 29, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Children's books have the power to act as important tools for passing on cultural practices of the specific societies within which they are written, and also as a window through which children can see cultures other than their own. This article looks at the representation of the cultural practices of the Tondo and Bukusu communities in Kenya in Benjamin Wegesa's (1989). Specifically, I examine how Tondo practices, such as raiding, polygamy, tattooing and eating habits, are witnessed through the eyes of Nanjala, a young Bukusu girl, who is captured by Tondo raiders. Nanjala's life in Tondoland allows young readers to witness the Tondo culture and compare it to the Bukusu culture. Since certain African and specifically Kenyan cultural practices are fast disappearing, I argue that children's texts like have a cultural relevance: through them young readers discover certain knowledge which may not be readily available in their life experiences. Literature for children, therefore, can be an important record of culture, and today's children should be encouraged to read such fictional texts based on societal ways of life.

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