Why the Africans Dwell in Huts

Each time one sees an image of a hut, one thinks of Africa. Certainly, huts have been the defining architectural hallmark of Africa, and all through the continent, they’ve been the popular constructing model.

Huts are a type of residing house. Huts are normally spherical, with a peaked roof. They’re normally manufactured from mud or clay, with a picket construction to assist the constructing, and a single picket pole within the centre, which helps the grass-thatched roof.

Many critics of Africa declare that Africa can boast no nice cultures south of Egypt. By that, they typically imply that there isn’t a architectural proof of greatness south of the Pyramids. Certainly, structure or architectural stays are the accepted calling card of the so-called ‘nice cultures’.

Whereas most of Africa can boast no such fossil proof, there’s purpose to imagine that the architectural decisions made by the Africans up to now are neither as unintentional nor as simplistic as they could appear.

For one, most of Africa is heat to sizzling all year long, with out an prolonged winter interval. Essentially the most uncomfortable climatic interval is the lengthy rains, throughout which it rains loads, largely day-after-day. Nonetheless, in most of Africa, it showers, reasonably than rains. Meaning a fast and voluminous interval of precipitation, in contrast to rain in Europe for instance, which can be a slight however steady precipitation. As well as, most of Africa, which lies on the equator, experiences nearly equal twelve-hour durations every for night time and day. That is in distinction to for instance Europe, the place in winter, darkness could also be up eighteen hours lengthy.

As such, most of life in Africa is lived exterior. A shelter is required just for the night time, in opposition to the chilly and as shelter from wild animals. There has by no means been a necessity to take a position as closely in shelter as has been accomplished in Europe for instance. Strictly talking, there was not often a state of affairs in Africa the place lack of shelter would have been life-threatening. In lots of African cultures, nomads, hunters, warriors and messengers have been typically away from dwelling for lengthy durations with out having shelter.

Huts are sometimes small, and manufactured from the available mud or river clay, plastered over a skeleton of branches. They have been utterly cheap in each supplies and labour. In lots of cultures, the ladies did the plastering, whereas the lads did the thatching of the roof. Among the many Maasai of East Africa, the girl builds the entire construction, which is known as a manyatta.

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Due to this relaxed philosophy to shelter, the Africans weren’t enslaved by the acquisition of shelter as is commonly the case within the fashionable world. In in the present day’s globalised world, shopping for one’s house is a lifetime legal responsibility that forces one to dwell chained to a mortgage, below the Damocles sword of a foreclosures. The exploitation of this concern in the usA. contributed to the present worldwide monetary disaster.

It’s also worthy of word that the majority the well-known architectural monuments of the good cultures have been constructed by using slave labour, pressured and semi-forced labour. That has by no means been vital in Africa south of the pyramids. Actually, shelter was so cheap that the nomads might stroll away from their huts at a second’s discover and stroll off into the savannah – the epitome of freedom.

It additionally meant that no household was ever with out shelter as a result of shelter was unaffordable, in contrast to in in the present day’s world the place many households change into homeless in the event that they expertise a monetary upset halfway by means of their mortgage.

In lots of elements of Africa, the huts have been renovated and renewed every year, after the harvest season and earlier than the following rains. This was the interval with the least work and was like a vacation. The harvest was in, and subsequent agricultural season had not but begun. The ladies renovated the partitions of the huts by plastering with a brand new layer of mud or clay. White or ochre-coloured river clay was used as a beauty end inside and out of doors the hut, in addition to on the ground. Communities that had no entry to river clay used a mix of cow-dung and dirt, or ash.

An excellent African housewife took this responsibility as severely as caring for her personal physique. A succesful spouse might be recognized by her impeccably-kept hut(s). The common renovation additionally served an necessary hygienic operate: river clay is a really clear and healthful materials that daunts the breeding of bugs and different pests. Each clay and dried cow dung are much like ash on this respect. Cooking-fire ash from non-poisonous burnt wooden is pure sufficient for use in its place for toothpaste.

Renovation additionally gave the girl a inventive outlet: she might paint no matter motifs on her partitions that she wished. The boys re-thatched the hut(s), utilizing grass, comparable to elephant grass which was largely minimize by the ladies. Among the many Masaai, the ladies did the renovation work as the lads have been typically occupied with the full-time job of defending the tribe from lions and different risks lurking within the savannah.

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A really satisfying impact of this yearly renewal was the psychological impact. There was an environment of renewal yearly; of recent life, of a contemporary begin, of soul cleaning and a putting off the previous. Yearly. It is a very wholesome psychological perspective. Festivals that includes dancing and feasting additionally accompanied this era.

In in the present day’s world, buying a house has such a finality to it. A way of being rooted and captured by one constructing for one’s lifetime.

As a result of they have been low-cost, huts have been additionally very versatile. One might construct a homestead of huts: one for cooking, one other for sleeping, one other for receiving guests, and so forth. Each time one wanted a brand new hut, one merely constructed one. Adolescent boys got a bit of land the place they might construct their very own huts, a distance away from the remainder of the household. Their privateness was assured, and their actions inside their huts have been no one’s concern. Loads of adolescents in the present day would recognize the thought of getting one’s personal hut.

Huts are very snug and precisely proper for a lot of elements of Africa. That is primarily due to the constructing supplies used. Each clay and grass are good insulators, however are porous, and so permit a free move of air. It’s typically very popular throughout the afternoons in Africa. The hut stays cool and is a welcome resting place. At night time, when temperatures fall, the hut retains its daytime temperature, retaining the inhabitants heat.

Huts are additionally very low-maintenance. A well-renovated hut solely must be swept as soon as a day with a straw broom. There was no must wipe, polish or mud. Accidents with liquids have been undramatic as a result of the liquid was merely absorbed into the earth. The one actual hazard was fireplace, because the thatched roofs might burn in a short time, trapping the folks inside.

Not too long ago, an architectural workforce in Switzerland has ‘found’ the virtues of clay as a constructing materials. Clay is a robust, sturdy materials that’s straightforward to work with. Utilized accurately, it may be used to construct constructions which are steady, sturdy and aesthetic with out necessitating the usage of paint and cement. Most necessary of all, clay is wholesome. It has now been confirmed that clay filters out toxins from the setting. Trendy constructing supplies like cements, paint, fillers and metals launch toxins that compromise human well being and well-being. A constructing manufactured from clay or mud is totally eco-friendly, supplied the preliminary supply was secure.

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The Africans knew that a very long time in the past. Huts, manufactured from pure ‘earth’ supplies, fitted in with their fundamental philosophy of drawing on nature for all their wants, and solely within the quantities that have been wanted. For instance, calabashes and gourds have been used as containers for milk, water, native beer, porridge, honey or another liquid. Cooking pots have been manufactured from clay, as have been water pots. Cooking sticks have been manufactured from wooden.

Water saved in a clay pot has a nice, pure coolness, and smells of earth. Drunk out of a calabash, it has an extra woody flavour. Meals cooked in a clay pot over a wooden fireplace retains an inimitable earthy aroma, particularly contemporary beans or meat dishes.

Sleeping mats or sitting mats have been woven out of rushes or manufactured from animal pores and skin, as was clothes. Some folks constructed a raised clay platform lined with animal skins or rush mats to behave as a seat or a mattress. Stools have been manufactured from wooden or woven from rushes. Girls wore jewellery constructed from bone, horn, wooden, stone, clay, beads or woven rushes. Foodstuffs have been carried or saved in woven rush baskets or clay pots.

This philosophy of residing in concord with the bounty of nature led to zero rubbish, since every little thing was biodegradable. Certainly, till the appearance of modernity and urbanisation, Africa was a continent of pure magnificence preserved in its entirety.

Sadly, present-day Africans are leaping wholesale onto the bandwagon of pricy houses constructed of derived supplies, which require a lifetime to pay for and a fortune to restore and preserve. The supplies utilized in fashionable buildings entice warmth, smells and moisture and are sometimes derived utilizing procedures that hurt the setting. The homes lack the wellness impact of sitting in a hut constructed completely out of the earth. They’re in line with the fashionable day tendencies of inflated consumerism, self-definition by means of possession and a careless disregard for the planet.

Fortunately, some are rediscovering the enchantment of huts. They’ve been re-designed in some circumstances to be a lot bigger, with massive home windows, or mixed in intersecting or interconnecting constructions. A well-known resort in Nairobi, Kenya is constructed utilizing this idea, with handled straw used for thatching.

Certainly, increasingly more individuals are re-discovering why Africans lived in huts.