Cultural Relevance of Children’s Books in Kenya: The Case of Captured by Raiders by Benjamin Wegesa

Dr. Muriungi, C. K

Abstract

Children’s books have the power to act as important tools for passing cultural practices of specific societies within which they are written, and also as a window through which children can be able to see other people’s culture, other than their own. My paper looks at the representation of the cultural practices of the Tondo and Bukusu communities in Kenya in Benjamin Wegesa’s children’s text, Captured by Raiders. Specifically, I examine how Tondo practices like raiding, polygamy; tattooing and eating habits are witnessed through the eyes of Nanjala, a young Bukusu girl in Kenya, who is captured by Tondo raiders. Nanjala’s life in Tondoland allows young readers to not only witness the Tondo culture, but also to compare it with the Bukusu culture. Since certain African and specifically Kenyan cultural practices are fast disappearing, I argue that texts like Captured by Raiders have a cultural relevance because through them the young readers discover certain knowledge which may not be readily available in their life experiences. Literature for children therefore can be said to be an important record of culture, and writing of such fictional texts based on societal way of life should be encouraged for the reading of today’s children.

 Key words – children’s reading, cultural practices, characters, multiculturalism, Tondo, Bukusu, Captured by Raiders, Kenya.

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