Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Kenyan Homestead

In the village of Malava, I live very close to the marketplace where there are many shops, small buildings, and even some homes made out of cement and bricks, but if I walk only a few minutes in any direction I can see mud huts all around. A group of mud huts together make up the traditional Kenyan Homestead. In Swahili, the homestead is called the bomas.

In the village of Malava mud huts are all around!

A typical mud hut in Malava

The traditional Kenyan homestead is typically is made up of many mud huts built close together and occupied by many generations of the same family all living together. It is very common for a man and a woman to live on the same land as their children and grandchildren all at the same time.

A local Malava Homestead

Some Kenyans practice the tradition of polygamy. In those families, each wife is given her own hut, but it is the hut of the man’s first wife that is always the largest of them. When the children grow old enough to be considered men and women they are each given their own hut as well. Then when the men get married they will bring their wife to live at the homestead, while the women will move away to live at the homestead of their husband.

This small hut is used for storing maize and other grains

The average mud hut is not very large and only contains two or three small rooms and so separate huts are built for the kitchen and the latrine. In addition to these huts other mud structures are also built for keeping animals and storing grain.

This interesting variation is covered completely with grass thatch

Each tribe of Kenya uses a different style of building and huts across the country can have a lot of variation. The huts from the Luyha (LOO-YUH) tribe around Malava are made in several stages. First the land is cleared and a foundation of mud is formed. This foundation also serves as the inside floor of the hut. Then walls are built up around the floor out of tree limbs and sticks. Afterwards the limbs and sticks are covered with several layers of mud and left to dry in the sun. Square and rectangular holes are cut in the walls to serve as windows and are fitted with small wooded shutters. When the mud walls are finished a cone-shaped roof is constructed of wood limbs and finally covered on top with grass thatch.

This modern hut uses cement instead of mud

The mud that is used to build the floor and the walls is made out of soil and water, but can also contain cow dung. When dried cow dung is said to be several times stronger than soil and water alone. Some modern huts can be covered with a layer of cement to make them strong and can even be fitted with glass window with metal frames.

Tom and his one-year-old daughter

On several occasions I have had the great pleasure to visit Tom, the groundskeeper at the St. Julie Centre, and his family at their traditional Kenyan homestead. Every time I have come he has given me a tour around the compound. He always begins the tour by proudly showing me his hut, where he lives with his only wife and their one-year-old daughter. Then as we continue to walk around he will show me the huts of his father, mother, brothers, and cousins. We are followed every step of the way by all the children of his family. They are all very curious and shy at first but soon they all begin running and laughing and will dance to the music on the radio. When we get to the far edge of the homestead Tom shows me a newly constructed hut that looks very much like a house. It is made of cement and bricks and has glass windows with metal frames. I always remark at how nice it looks. Then Tom will smile and turn to me and say, “This is where you will live when you marry my cousin.” That’s when I smile and turn to him and say, “I think it’s time for me to go.”

The children at Tom's homestead


Anonymous said...


Nice pics of the Kenyan Homestead. Hey, will you be returning home at the end of December?


Anonymous said...

Will you be bringing your new bride, Tom's cousin, home for a visit?? Charming the Kenyan girls, are ya?!


Linda Armstrong said...

Thank you! What great information!

Joyful said...

So have you married Tom's cousin yet? It would be great to see a photo of your home ;-)

Anonymous said...

Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this site needs a great
deal more attention. I'll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the advice!
Also see my website > Busty Wanker

Anonymous said...

For most up-to-date news you have to pay a quick visit internet and on world-wide-web I found this site as a best site for
newest updates.
my site: In Ever Possible Position

Anonymous said...

At this time it appears like Expression Engine is
the top blogging platform out there right now.
(from what I've read) Is that what you're using on your blog?
Look at my homepage :: sachin photos

Anonymous said...

I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!
Feel free to surf my web-site ... click through the next page

Anonymous said...

I'm extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it's rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.
Here is my web blog ; How to Become a Millionaire

Anonymous said...

Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog
and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
In any case I'll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!
my page: Smith Mountain Lake Vacation Rentals

Anonymous said...

constantly i used to read smaller content that as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this piece
of writing which I am reading at this time.

My web site :: kitchen cabinet

Anonymous said...

bookmarked!!, I really like your website!

Also visit my web site ... naked latina girls movies

Anonymous said...

Very good information. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance (stumbleupon).
I have saved as a favorite for later!

My web page amazing hot milf xxx movies video

chen jing said...

When some one searches for his essential thing, so he/she desires to be available that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over

Here is my weblog - taobao agent

grifos-de-baño said...

Un blog excepcionalmente agradable, y un dise?o fino que hay chispas Simplicidad y complejo algoritmo de la red. Gracias.

Kirsten Jones said...

robinetterie-baignoire acceptent les tableaux exploités ou capteurs alimentés électriquement que vérifier les robinets et le mouvement baptisent courant pour actionner le débit. Les pourraient être commencent soit à l'abject du douche-robinetterie-douche ou sur sa tête. Certains capteurs acceptent même la pertinence de modifier la température de la baptiser que vos besoins changent ou douche alternative.

finestglasses said...

Get Trendier by buying oval Eyeglasses is easy.  Just search at google, find a cheap and good quality women oval glasses at Since it is cheap, buying 3 differs oval eyeglasses with 3 differ colors.

Anonymous said...

) the report stipulates that electrical energy accounts for 44 percent of the
total water production costs of a typical membrane seawater desalination. Remember,
not all grit is just dirt; it can include many different elements and materials that can't be
removed through the pooling process. According to the Board, groundwater in the area is used for both agricultural and drinking purposes.

Also visit my page :: ()

Anonymous said...

Howdy! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask.
Does managing a well-established blog like yours take a large amount of work?
I am brand new to running a blog but I do write in my
diary everyday. I'd like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience
and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations
or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!

my web-site; webcam mature - -

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your website.

It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here
and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
Great work!

Look at my web-site; carpentry []

sherry jiang said...

Waterfall taps are a stylish way to make a statement in your bathroom, and are becoming increasingly popular and very affordable. Water cascades from an open spout creating a stunning waterfall effect that makes washing, shaving and cleaning your teeth something to look forward to. offers a wide range of waterfall basin mixers all at discounted prices, so adding that wow-factor has never been easier.

sherry jiang said...

Waterfall taps are a stylish way to make a statement in your bathroom, and are becoming increasingly popular and very affordable. Water cascades from an open spout creating a stunning waterfall effect that makes washing, shaving and cleaning your teeth something to look forward to. offers a wide range of waterfall basin mixers all at discounted prices, so adding that wow-factor has never been easier.