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Housing

Are there buildings, besides huts, in Africa?

Yes, there are beautiful buildings all over Africa. In fact it is very possible for somebody to live in Africa just as if he is back in the West, because of the cultural hybrid that Africa has become. Unfortunately, sometimes some of these buildings are not well maintained because of the political and economic instability in most African countries, especially those just coming out of a war situation like Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. So, whereas there are African style homes and huts too, there are also structures that are influenced by Western architectural practices.

Do you live in huts in Africa?

Huts are traditional to Africa, just as they are to other cultures, and are still very much in existence, and just as not all Westerners live in apartments, so too, not all Africans live in huts. Huts are our traditional homes, in the sense that they were some of the first habitable structures built by man when man first thought of accommodation beyond caves. These huts, however, have changed with time in different places to accommodate man's changing needs and the natural characteristics typical of man's environment. Depending on where one is, so too does the quality of the average African home change. There are some communities that are still using the traditional huts which are single room huts with sections in the interior reserved for different activities—storage, sleeping, and receiving guests. Then there are other societies with the average home typical of those found in middle class societies and above in other parts of the world, and then there are the very rich with private mansions of their own also.

Huts, in any case, are not an African affair only; they are found in different cultures around the world—India, Tibet for example— especially amongst constantly migrating peoples who build temporary huts which they use until they are ready to move again. Interestingly, even in some of the "huts" in Africa, one is likely to come across luxury items like phones, TVs, and even computers as part of routine daily life; but, of course, more so in the middle class homes and those of the rich.

In Africa, if I must reiterate this, there are villages, towns, and cities, and contrary to other peoples' cherished convictions about Africans, these peoples live in houses or huts that best suit their geographical conditions and their life-style. Nomadic groups for example, just like with some Mongolians, Saami people who occupy the northern parts of the Scandinavian countries, or tribes of the deserts with their caravans, build temporary huts which they destroy from season to season as they move from place to place with their cattle or reindeer in search of green grass. In some cases, the huts are permanent but they suit the lifestyle of the people. It is these huts that Western visitors, scholars, and the media alike, love to show of Africa all the time, while ignoring other fantastic African and Western-style structures that are on the continent, even though most are now poorly kept because of on-going political rivalries that have brought about collapsing economies.

Do you live with monkeys?

If by this is meant in the same jungles, then the answer is no. We probably share some boundaries here, even though the monkeys do raid human territories from time to time as they forage for food; the reverse is also true, for man has destroyed a lot of the natural habitats of these animals through farming, logging, and the building of residential areas. Some people, meanwhile, may own a pet monkey or two.

Are there skyscrapers in Africa?

There are some really high buildings in Africa, even though they cannot compete with some of those skyscrapers in places like New York; these however, are not traditional African buildings. These are extensions of Western influence on the continent.

 
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