Traditional And Cultural West African Homes

Traditional And Cultural West African Homes

Some groups were more concerned about their security and so fortified the buidings while others had houses which were more temporaly and looked like tents because they were pastoralists. What is interesting about these structures is that they are weather proof although looking at them one may not think so.

The houses are made in a way and with materials that make them cool in the hot weathers and warm in the cold rainy seasons. The materials used range from mud, brick, dung, grass and stone depending on the area. Africans are a communal people and most of the homes would be huddled together in a homestead as an extension of each other and for protection against outsiders.

In this first part I explores traditional homes in West Africa West Africa has a rather humid climate and that may explain most of their traditional houses compared to those in the East and South Africa. The countries that make West Africa include Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon, Bukina Faso and Niger.

Dogon Villages, Mali: Historically Dogon Villages established in the Bandiagara area due to their resistance to Islam1000 years ago. The insecurity of Islam encroachment to their culture forced them to locate their villages in defensive positions along the walls of an escarpment. The huts are built of banco a mixture of earth and straw. The kitchen is round and is covered by a thatched roof. They also had houses built for menstrating women as women were considered unclean during menstration.

Dogon Cliff houses

The Dogon Hut

Djenne Houses, Mali: The Djenne houses are distinct in their built. They use mud brick and the entrance is lower which Historically was aimed at protecting them against their enemies, especially slave traders. The low entrance gave them time to prepare for an invading slave trader. Apparently slave capturers were known to be swift and would enter a house and capture someone and live in a hurry.  

Djenne House

The roof tops were accessible and served as a protective place as it allowed them to monitor anyone approaching their village.

Djenne houses from the rooftop

Limba Villages, Sierra Leone: The huts are made of bamboo and mud and has a patio with a fixed seat. The roof is weather proof and is made out of thatch sewn to the wooden braces made out of grass. The roof is made in such a way that it offers shade to the house making it cooler.

Limba Hut

Musgum house, Cameroon: These huts also known as Tolek are doomed shaped and are made from compressed sun dried mud. The walls at the base are stronger than at the summit for stability of the building. The top of the house is pierced with a circular opening allowing air to circulate for freshness.

Musgum house

Musgum are built about 9 meters high which makes them cooler during hot seasons. The one below clearly shows the height compared to the people standing next to it.

Musgum hut

Mud House Cameroon: This is a different design by a different tribe in Cameroon. The hut is round like most African Huts are and is thatched with solid grass which is weather proof.

Mud House

Nord huts, Cameroon: These huts clearly defines the roof finish whcih looks like a nord.

Nord Huts

Taberma house, Togo: The Taberma whose name stands for “real architects of the world” have their origin in Bukina Faso. Their dwellings are known as the Tatas and are built using mud with bricks and resemble tiny castles. The houses are typically two storeys with the ground floor used for their domestic animals and cooking. The top is used for sleeping and is exposed to the sky and allows them to survey the approach of anyone.

Taberma house

Mud huts, Togo: This is another design of huts in Togo. These are made of mud and the roof thatched with straw. They are more cone like in look and closely knit together.

Dourtenga Huts, Burkina Faso: These huts are cone like and are made with mud and the walls plastered with clay. The roof is made with thick straw held together with wooden braces and is weather proof. 

Dourtenga mud huts

Nomads Houses, Bukina Faso: As one can tell these houses have a temporaly nature. The houses are tent like and that is because the owners are nomads who move from one place to another in search of pasture for their animals.

Nomadic hut

Mud Brick hut, Nigeria: These huts are built using brick which have a long life span. The roof is thatched with grass sewn to wooden braces and is weather proof. The huts are lower down, wider and more round.

Nigerian hut

Katsina Village, Nigeria: The materials used in this village buildings seem to be more sandy looking. The houses also have a more square look and the roof is not thatched like most traditional Africa houses were.

Katsina houses

Mud brick houses in, Ghana: As is common with traditional African homes they are hudled close togther but these are more sqaure looking. The material used is mud brick and thatched with grass held togther with wooden braces

Brick house, Ghana

Ashanti Home, Ghana: As obviously can bee seen this house is very different in style than the others. It is a remnant of some of the Ashanti’s royal houses. Thise was proberly the main house as on the side ther are smaller house. The roof material is similar to traditional houses but the design seesm more modern that its era.

Ashanti Home

Boat houses, Senegal: These huts are different because they are built inside the water mass. They are lifted up by a table like building and the roof seems to cover the whole building making it look like an umbrella. The inhabitants are largely fishermen.

Boat Houses

Jole Fadiout traditional homes, Senegal: The house unlike the boat house are round and are made from brick stone and thathed with the traditional grass

Jole Fadiout house

Grass House, Niger: This hut seems to be made of grass all the way. It seems of a temporaly nature and as such the dwellers must be nomads

Grass hut

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Written by serowa
Advocate, freelance writer, mentor, counselor, Christian