Why do Africans live in shanties?

Anyone who sees a picture of a hut thinks of Africa. In fact, shanties have become a definite architectural feature of Africa and have become their preferred building style throughout the continent.

Shacks are a form of living space. The huts are usually round and have a high roof. They are usually made of mud or clay, with a wooden structure supporting the building and a single wooden pillar in the middle supporting the thatched roof.

Many critics in Africa say that Africa cannot boast of the great cultures of the south of Egypt. By that they often mean that there is no architectural evidence of greatness to the south of the pyramids. In fact, architectural or architectural ruins are the accepted calling card of the so-called ‘great cultures’.

While many parts of Africa cannot boast of such fossil evidence, there is reason to believe that the architectural choices made by Africans so far have not been accidental or seemingly simple.

For one, most parts of Africa are warm and warm all year round without a long winter. The most difficult climatic period is the long rainy season, during which time it rains almost every day. However, much of Africa receives more rain than ever before. That means rapid and large rainfall, which, for example, can be small but continuous, unlike in Europe. In addition, most parts of Africa at the equator experience periods equal to twelve hours during the day and night. This is different from Europe, for example, where darkness can last up to eighteen hours in winter.

Accordingly, many species in Africa live outside. Accommodation is required only for the night, against the cold and as shelter from wildlife. For example, there has never been a need to invest heavily in accommodation, as has been done in Europe. Strictly speaking, homelessness was a rare life-threatening condition in Africa. In many African cultures, nomads, hunters, warriors, and messengers often stayed away from home for long periods of time.

The huts are often small, made of readily available mud or river clay, and plastered on a skeleton. They were completely inexpensive, both material and labor. In many cultures, plastering was done by women and roofing was done by men. Among the Maasai in East Africa, the woman builds the entire structure, known as the maniyatta.

Because of this relaxed view of accommodation, Africans were not enslaved to accommodation, as is often the case in the modern world. In today’s globalized world, buying one’s home is a lifetime obligation, forcing one to live with a mortgage chain, under the sword of mortgage Damocles. The exploitation of this fear in the United States contributed to the current global financial crisis.

It should also be noted that almost all of the famous architectural monuments of the great cultures were constructed using slave labor, forced and semi-forced labor. In Africa south of the pyramids it was never needed. Of course, the accommodation is so cheap that the nominees can leave their huts for a moment and walk to the savannah – a summary of freedom.

This meant that unlike in today’s world where many families lose their homes when they experience a financial crisis along the way, no family was left homeless because they could not afford to stay.

In many parts of Africa, huts were repaired and renovated once a year after harvest and before the next rains. This was a period of minimal work and was like a vacation. Harvesting and the next agricultural season had not yet begun. The women plastered with a new layer of mud or clay and repaired the walls of the huts. White or ocher colored river clay was used inside and outside the hut as well as a decorative finish on the floor. Communities that did not have access to river clay used a mixture of cow dung and mud or ash.

A good African housewife took this duty as seriously as caring for her body. A good wife can be identified by the hut she keeps innocent. Regular repairs also played an important sanitary role: river clay is a very clean and useful material that discourages the breeding of insects and other pests. In this respect both clay and dried dung are similar to ash. Cooked-fire ash is clean from burnt wood, which is not toxic enough to use as an alternative to toothpaste.

The renovation also gave the woman a creative outlet: she could paint any design she liked on her walls. The huts were remodeled by males using grass, such as the elephant grass that most women cut. Among the Maasai, the restoration work was done by women, as men often did the full-time job of protecting the tribe from the lions and other dangers lurking in the savannah.

The most satisfying effect of this annual renewal was the psychological impact. There was an atmosphere of renewal every year; A new life, a fresh start, a cleansing of the soul and the removal of the past. every year. This is a very healthy psychological perspective. Festivals including dances and banquets also coincided with this period.

In today’s world of automation can be a daunting task. A feeling of being rooted in one building for the rest of one’s life.

Because they were cheaper, the huts were also very flexible. One can build a house in a hut: one for cooking, another for sleeping, another for welcoming guests, and so on. Whenever someone needs a new hut, one simply builds one. The teenage boys were given land to build their own huts away from the rest of the family. Their privacy was guaranteed, and no one cared about their activities in their huts. Many young people today will appreciate the idea of ​​having their own hut.

The hut is very comfortable and just right for most parts of Africa. This is mainly due to the building materials used. Both clay and grass are good insulators, but are porous and therefore allow free flow of air. Africa is often very hot during the day. The hut is cool and a welcoming resting place. At night, when the temperature drops, the hut retains its daytime temperature and keeps the occupants warm.

The huts are also very low maintenance. A well-remodeled hut should be wiped clean with a straw only once a day. No need to wipe, polish or dust. Accidents with liquids occurred simply because the liquid was absorbed into the earth. The real danger is fire, as the thatched roof can burn very quickly and trap people inside.

Recently, a team of architects in Switzerland ‘discovered’ the properties of clay as a building material. Clay is a strong, durable material that is easy to work with. When applied correctly, it can be used to create stable, durable and aesthetic structures without the need for the use of paints and cement. Above all, clay is healthy. It has now been proven that clay filters out toxins in the environment. Modern building materials such as cement, paints, fillers and metals release toxins that interfere with human health and well-being. A building made of clay or mud is completely eco-friendly, the primary source was safe.

Africans knew it a long time ago. The huts are made of natural ‘earth’ material, fitted to the basic philosophy of drawing on nature for all their needs and only to the required dimensions. For example, calabashes and bitter gourds were used as containers for milk, water, local beer, porridge, honey or any other liquid. Cooking utensils as well as water pots were made of clay. Cooking sticks are made of wood.

Water stored in a clay pot has a pleasant, natural cooling and earthy aroma. Drink from Calabash, it has an extra woody flavor. Food cooked in a clay pot over a wood fire, especially fresh beans or meat dishes, retains a unique earthy aroma.

Sleeping mats or sitting mats were woven from rash or animal skins, as well as clothing. Some have made a high clay platform covered with animal skins or rush mats to serve as a seat or bed. The stool was woven from wood or rash. The women wore jewelry made of bone, horns, wood, stone, clay, beads or woven rushes. Carry or store food items in woven rush baskets or clay pots.

This philosophy of living in harmony with nature’s legacy led to the emptiness of garbage because everything can be biodegradable. In fact, until the advent of modernity and urbanization, Africa was a continent of natural beauty and fully preserved.

Sadly, today’s Africans are jumping on the bandwagon of expensive homes built of derivative materials, which require a fortune to pay for, and repair and maintain for a lifetime. Materials used in modern buildings trap heat, odors and moisture and often use environmentally harmful procedures. Sitting in a hut built entirely of earth has no healing effect on homes. They are in line with modern day trends such as inflated consumerism, self-definition through possession and indifference to the planet.

Happily, some are rediscovering the magic of shanties. They are sometimes large redesigned in combination with large windows or intersecting or interconnected structures. A well-known hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, has built this concept using straw used for roofing.

In fact, more and more people are rediscovering why Africans lived in shanties.

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