Home » Luhya Culture » The one thing a true Luhya home kitchen never lacked
picture of outdoor wooden rack with utensils kitaraze or ikitaraze in maragoli language also known as shitalasi in isukha, shitalalataliro in wanga, sirandaro in bukusu

The one thing a true Luhya home kitchen never lacked

There is a fixture of traditional Luhya home that’s made of wooden logs and sticks and serves as an outdoor stationed rack for air drying utensils. It is known in the various Luhya dialects as: kitaraze (lulogooli), shitalasi (lukisa, lwisukha, lwidakho), sirandaro (lubukusu), shitalataliro (luwanga), esichandaliroo (lunyala), esitaratsi (lunyore), eshitslasi (lutsotso). Join us and find out why it is the one thing a true Luhya home kitchen never lacked.

Shitalasi is a an odd thing. It is a must for a true Luhya kitchen, yet it is found outdoors. Often, it would be constructed by young males in the home. This is usually the last born male, the marondo of the womb. In Luhya culture the last born male never leaves home. He inherits his father’s and ancestors’ bones (The Maragoli have a unique way of describing the Mmavi clan that descended from the lastborn son of their ancestor Mulogoli; they say that M’mavi yatigala nalinda misanga gia mulogoli). Constructing shitalasi is the one way a last born silently projects readiness to take care of his parents in old age and carry the family name into the future.

Clever Design

As last borns can be quite creative if left to their own devices, there is a proper way to construct this important installation of a true Luhya home kitchen. This infographic shows the smart design of shitalasi by our ancestors.

nforagraphic with details on the clever design of shitalasi by our ancestors to allow for reducing a houshold carbon footprint by using the sun and free flowing air to dry utensils, ensuring hygiene and additional storage

Thankfully, the fun doesn’t end with the cool infographic some weird facts on shitalataliro.

Fun Facts On This Most Important Fixture Of A True Luhya Home Kitchen

My Maragoli cousin, when I asked her of her fondest memory of kitaraze said, “Kwivisa mkitaraze nokugosi.” Meaning, we’d hide underneath the kitaraze when our mischief caught up with us. It is true that at some age, one could be out of reach and momentarily escape discipline by lukhendu from their mother by hiding in the lower compartment of shitalataliro.

Speaking of discipline, the easiest way to get your ass whopped growing up Luhya, was to leave the utensils on the eshitataliro to be rained on. As the clouds gather so should you gather the utensils to safety.

Finally, still on discipline, did you know that a household could be punished by the chief if they did have a kitaraze? Not only would they be fined a goat or chicken depending on how uncooperative they were. Lack of a shitalasi would mean a poor social score. This means that the local administration would zero on the family. Therefore, the chiefs and village elders would make sure that they were the first in line contributing to social projects such as building of harambee schools.

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