Blogger Spotlight: A Kitchen In Uganda
A Kitchen In Uganda (AKIA) is an award-winning blog by Sophia Musoki. Sophia is a self-taught photographer and food blogger from Uganda who has been featured on CNN’s African Voices. She has published 3 recipe books to date.
At which point did you decide to blog about Ugandan Food?
It happened over a series of layered events and experiences. Growing up I wanted to be a chef. When I realized going to culinary school was out of the question, I decided to blog. The more I delved into food blogging, the more I realized that there was a lack of Ugandan food blogs. So essentially my blog was the first of its kind in the country and this fueled me to explore our food especially since it lacked a positive online presence. And the rest, as they say, is history!
How did you choose the name for your blog?
The name was chosen after a long time of deliberation. I wanted it to represent how the kitchen is essential in my life. In most Ugandan households, the kitchen is where stories are told and family interactions are held so I knew that the word ‘kitchen’ had to be in the name.
Secondly, since I am a Ugandan I wanted that to be reflected in the name because almost all the food I make on the blog is inspired by my Ugandan upbringing. Initially, I wanted to call the blog ‘the Ugandan Kitchen’ but I thought it was limiting so ‘A kitchen in Uganda’ was fitting.
What unexpected challenges did you encounter ever since you started blogging and how did you overcome them?
Gosh! Where do I start? Firstly there is the unstable power and internet that makes this all a big ordeal. I have to be honest that one of the reasons the blog took off was because I started it while in University and the campus had internet. To overcome the frequent black outs and still maintain consistency, I started batch creating and scheduling. I usually create content that can last up to 3 months and then schedule it so that whether there is internet or not, it will still automatically post itself.
The second challenge is finding inspiration. It was much easier starting out without the pressures of social media. But now everything is in your face at all times and this can cause comparison and the feelings of not being good enough. How I manage this is to deliberately get off social media whenever I am done doing what is important like sharing and replying to comments.
One of the things that kill blogs fast is lack of belief in what we are bringing to the table.Sophia Musoki
Was there ever a time when you almost gave up on A Kitchen in Uganda?
Yes! Multiple times actually. I can recall more than 5 times where I was convinced deleting the blog is the best decision. But one thing that keep me going is the realization that this is bigger than me and the number of messages I get from readers talking about how I inspire(d) them to go start their own blogs/ creative endeavors is one of the things that keep me going.
Share with us your blog post creation process.
It all starts with a notebook. I keep a notebook with me at all times (The Google Notes App is the most used app on my phone!) to jot down any idea that comes to mind. Once I have all the ideas listed down, I go ahead and research them further so I have supporting information.
I then schedule (up to 6 months ahead) these ideas depending on the availability of raw materials and their complexity. Once scheduling is done, I proceed to taste test each individual idea about 3 times. Some ideas work and some do not. Those that do not work are removed from the schedule and those that work move onto the stage of photographing and recipe writing. I like to batch create so that I have more time to test ideas and work on my photography. The ideas that do not make it are revisited and revisions are made.
How big is the reach of your blog (audience)? What attracts the highest traffic?
As of January 2020, the blog has an overall of 200,000 views and 50,000 unique visitors. The top 3 African readers are from Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. I find fusion recipes and stories of our food’s past bring in the most traffic.
Your blog pursues fusion of African recipes, which involves researching on other African foods, Which African cuisine have you loved the most and why?
This is one of the joys of blogging. You get to explore different cuisines. Aside from Ugandan food, I am currently fascinated by West African food and culture mostly because it is the complete opposite of the east where I have been raised. I noticed that their food preparations are so thorough.
Without Chef training, How have you managed to have people trust your recipes and kitchen experiments?
I believe it is because of the home cook approach I use. As a home cook some things work while others don’t and I always make sure I share what has been successful, what has failed and how I work towards overcoming those failures. But most importantly, I encourage my readers to go out there and experiment because it is through these failures that masterpieces are created. I don’t blog to have the perfect recipe, but rather to explore the endless possibilities and this is achieved by writing like I am talking to a friend.
What is the future of A Kitchen in Uganda? Talk of 5 years
There is so much in store! In 5 years’ time I envision A Kitchen in Uganda expanding into a school for blogging and content creatives. Sign up here to join the waiting list: AKIU Academy I also have plans of eventually transitioning into a lifestyle brand. That is all I can reveal now. 🙂
What advice would you give to bloggers who are just starting?
Believe in your art/ craft: I think one of the things that kill blogs fast is our own lack of belief in what we are doing or bringing to the table. Stay consistent: Consistency and discipline will take you farther when talent cannot any longer. Remember that.
Do you follow other African food bloggers? If so, mention a few favourites.
Yes! I follow a lot. Let me narrow it down to 5.
- Kaluhi’s Kitchen ( http://www.kaluhiskitchen.com/ )
- Mandi Sarro ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCloK7paOhpfw4lscBWdaI7w )
- Dobby’s Signature ( http://dobbyssignature.com/ )
- Ombachi Dennis ( wemenshouldcook.com )
- Rogers Balamaga ( https://rogersbites.com)
What do you think is lacking in the African Blogging Space?
I believe two important aspects missing are a sense of community and exposure. There are a lot of creatives and storytellers who are doing amazing work but do not get enough exposure. I also think that a sense of togetherness is still being nurtured. I cannot speak for the whole continent, but I know in my country, the concept of a blogger let alone food blogger is still relatively new and puzzling to most people. It is because of this, we still have limited support systems and groups in place as creatives. This is the reason why I created a Ugandan food blogger community and support system and interested bloggers can join here.
Share 3 fun facts about yourself or your blog: A Kitchen in Uganda
- I am the smallest in our family because I am the child who never liked to eat. The irony is that I now write a food blog
- I wrote an 80,000-word novel at 15 because I wanted to be a publisher by 19!
- I am a self-taught food photographer
What are you up to when you are not cooking, blogging or at school?
Reading all the food photography, business and blogging resources I can get my hands on. I am also currently wiring a blogging course for Ugandan content creators in the food space so that keeps me on my toes. In my free time, I like to craft, read, write and binge-watch shows.
All images credit/ Sophia Musoki