Welcome to the first article of this series. We’re going on a trip all over Africa and want to take you with us. We going to be looking at the beautiful traditional houses all over Africa. Why don’t we start with the best country in Africa and where I was born… Nigeria – David
Even though Nigeria appeared on the world maps around 1914, when the British first colonized the area, there’s solid archeological evidence that this part of the West Africa has been inhabited for at least 2,500 years.
Present day Nigeria is home to a vast number of various ethnic tribes (estimated at around 250) and, due to this rich ethnic background, Nigeria’s architecture is as diverse, as the people that inhabit it. Upon the arrival of the British and the subsequent Western colonization of Nigeria, more and more emphasis was placed on the use of cement and iron, which were seen as symbols of wealth and prestige. Traditional Nigerian homes, however, are built from natural materials such as mud, wood, palm, grass and wood.
The ljo homes, for instance, are one of the most fascinating architectural structures, found in Nigeria. Built on stilts to accommodate to the humid and swampy area of the Niger Delta region – made from wood and bamboo, and roofed with raffia palms, they’re extremely airy and cool.
Igbo houses, on the other hand, are often designed to blend into the surrounding forests. Made from bamboo with vines and mud and covered with large banana leaves, they’re almost invisible… unless you know where to look. It’s interesting that the Igbo men and women tend to live separately from one another.
Particularly interesting are also the Mbari houses. Not “residential” building in the most traditional sense of the world, they’re found among the communities in Owere region, and are used as shrines to many deities – most frequently, to the Mother-Earth Ala. The Mbari houses are square structures, with a single story above the ground, and are usually decorated with solid columns and painted with stunning wil uli designs.
The Muslim culture has also left a huge impact on the traditional architecture of Nigeria. With walls, held together by mud and built in highly geometrical forms, Nigerian houses are often decorated with Muslim symbols.