The Clay Pot

By Muli

My grandmother’s clay pot was the most esteemed object in the kitchen. It was given to her by her mother-in-law. My grandfather met my grandmother at church. They became good friends and always attended church together. My grandmother Agnes and my grandfather Yakobo realized that they were drawn to each other and their love journey started. It became obvious to their parents that the children were in love and after having tried everything they could to separate these two, all their efforts were in vain.

It was not long until my grandfather decided to marry my grandmother. The wedding ceremony happened and they received a lot of gifts, but my grandmother felt welcomed and special when she received a clay pot from her mother-in-law.Being given a kitchen tool as a gift on your wedding day as a woman back then was a sign of respect and honor for the bride. My grandmother loved the pot so much. In this pot my grandmother could cook traditional delicacies such as corn and beans mixed and boiled together.

These meals cooked by my grandmother were a resemblance of the love and unity that my family shared. During meal times, deep and funny conversations were had and through them we all felt connected to ourselves and to the culture which valued the use of claypots in food storage and preparation. Most of my village elders still prefer eating food cooked in clay pots.

Our elders ate food prepared from a clay pot while drinking local beer made of bananas.What a wonderful and delicious meal it was, giving it a distinct taste that couldn’t be replicated by any other cooking vessel.

Some days, grandmother would start preparing beans in the morning, soaking the corn and beans in water, and grinding the spices. She would light a charcoal fire in the backyard, and once the embers were glowing, she would place the pot over the fire and let it cook for a moment. The aroma of the cooking in the clay pot would waft through the entire neighborhood, and neighbors would come knocking on our door, asking if they could have a taste. My grandmother was always happy to share her food and would dish out generous portions to whoever came to our house.

As a child, I loved watching my grandmother cook in the clay pot. I would sit on the kitchen floor, my eyes glued to her every move, as she added garlic, onions, and salt, stirred the pot, and adjusted the heat by adding firewood to the fire. I loved the sound of the bubbling beans and corn as it is cooked. And the smell was heavenly. My grandmother would often sing hymns while cooking. She would tell me stories as we waited for food to get ready.

When the food was ready my siblings and I would sit on the mat as grand mother served us the food in bowls, how scrumptious the food was. Mom, Dad and Grandmother would eat in the backyard in a shade under the tree.

As I grew up, a clay pot became more than just a cooking vessel, it was a symbol of my family’s history, a reminder of my grandmother’s love and dedication to her family, and a connection to my cultural heritage. It was a link between the past and the present, a tangible object that held memories and stories.

Today, we have a clay pot that sits in my mother’s kitchen, but not used to cook food. No one particularly kids is allowed to touch it as it is fragile. Its purpose is to remind us of the history and wonderful moments in my grandmother’s life here on earth. The clay pot is a treasure in our family. Every time I see it, I am transported back to my childhood, to my grandmother’s kitchen, and to a time when life was simpler, and family was cherished.

Life was simpler in my childhood as the only thing I had to do was go to school and do house chores. I vividly remember the unity in the family running so deep such that during the plowing season, it was normal for relatives to travel from their homes and come to offer help. These moments were filled with laughter and joyful moments.
How I wish life was still that simple in my adulthood!


12 June, 2023