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 fashion.
Huts are a type of dwelling area. Huts are normally spherical, with a peaked roof. They’re normally fabricated from mud or clay, with a wood construction to assist the constructing, and a single wood 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 is no such thing as 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 motive to consider that the architectural selections made by the Africans up to now are neither as unintentional nor as simplistic as they might appear.
For one, most of Africa is heat to scorching all year long, with out an prolonged winter interval. Probably the most uncomfortable climatic interval is the lengthy rains, throughout which it rains loads, principally every single day. Nevertheless, in most of Africa, it showers, relatively than rains. Which means a fast and voluminous interval of precipitation, not like 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 intervals every for evening 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 evening, towards 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 hardly ever a scenario 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 residence for lengthy intervals with out having shelter.
Huts are sometimes small, and fabricated 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 boys did the thatching of the roof. Among the many Maasai of East Africa, the lady builds the entire construction, which is known as a manyatta.
Due to this relaxed philosophy to shelter, the Africans weren’t enslaved by the acquisition of shelter as is commonly the case within the trendy world. In in the present day’s globalised world, shopping for one’s house is a lifetime legal responsibility that forces one to stay chained to a mortgage, beneath the Damocles sword of a foreclosures. The exploitation of this concern in the usA. contributed to the present worldwide monetary disaster.
It is usually worthy of be aware that the majority the well-known architectural monuments of the good cultures have been constructed by using slave labour, compelled and semi-forced labour. That has by no means been essential in Africa south of the pyramids. In actual fact, 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, not like in in the present day’s world the place many households develop into homeless in the event that they expertise a monetary upset halfway via their mortgage.
In lots of components of Africa, the huts have been renovated and renewed yearly, after the harvest season and earlier than the subsequent 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 outdoors the hut, in addition to on the ground. Communities that had no entry to river clay used a mix of cow-dung and dust, or ash.
A very good African housewife took this responsibility as severely as caring for her personal physique. A succesful spouse may very well be recognized by her impeccably-kept hut(s). The common renovation additionally served an essential 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 just 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 lady a inventive outlet: she might paint no matter motifs on her partitions that she wished. The boys re-thatched the hut(s), utilizing grass, corresponding to elephant grass which was principally minimize by the ladies. Among the many Masaai, the ladies did the renovation work as the boys have been typically occupied with the full-time job of defending the tribe from lions and different risks lurking within the savannah.
A really satisfying impact of this yearly renewal was the psychological impact. There was an environment of renewal yearly; of recent life, of a recent begin, of soul cleaning and a removing the previous. Yearly. This can be 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 person’s concern. Plenty of adolescents in the present day would admire the concept of getting one’s personal hut.
Huts are very comfy and precisely proper for a lot of components 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 circulate of air. It’s typically very popular in the course of the afternoons in Africa. The hut stays cool and is a welcome resting place. At evening, when temperatures fall, the hut retains its daytime temperature, holding 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 hearth, because the thatched roofs might burn in a short time, trapping the individuals inside.
Just lately, an architectural group in Switzerland has ‘found’ the virtues of clay as a constructing materials. Clay is a powerful, sturdy materials that’s simple to work with. Utilized appropriately, it may be used to construct buildings which might be steady, sturdy and aesthetic with out necessitating using paint and cement. Most essential of all, clay is wholesome. It has now been confirmed that clay filters out toxins from the setting. Fashionable constructing supplies like cements, paint, fillers and metals launch toxins that compromise human well being and well-being. A constructing fabricated from clay or mud is totally eco-friendly, offered the preliminary supply was secure.
The Africans knew that a very long time in the past. Huts, fabricated 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 some other liquid. Cooking pots have been fabricated from clay, as have been water pots. Cooking sticks have been fabricated from wooden.
Water saved in a clay pot has a pleasing, pure coolness, and smells of earth. Drunk out of a calabash, it has a further woody flavour. Meals cooked in a clay pot over a wooden hearth retains an inimitable earthy aroma, particularly recent beans or meat dishes.
Sleeping mats or sitting mats have been woven out of rushes or fabricated from animal pores and skin, as was clothes. Some individuals constructed a raised clay platform lined with animal skins or rush mats to behave as a seat or a mattress. Stools have been fabricated from wooden or woven from rushes. Girls wore jewellery comprised of 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 dwelling in concord with the bounty of nature led to zero rubbish, since every part 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 high-priced properties constructed of derived supplies, which require a lifetime to pay for and a fortune to restore and keep. The supplies utilized in trendy buildings lure 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 solely out of the earth. They’re consistent with the trendy day traits of inflated consumerism, self-definition via 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 buildings. A well-known lodge in Nairobi, Kenya is constructed utilizing this idea, with handled straw used for thatching.
Certainly, increasingly more persons are re-discovering why Africans lived in huts.