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Louisiana Hamlet Pavilion placed in Kibera and at The Louisiana. School in Kibera THE SETTLEMENT Traditionally, rural settlements in sub-Saharan Africa were organized as concentric circles around a centre where the cattle were enclosed within a fence. The great importance of the circle derived primarily from the analogical association with the moon, which was in many places perceived as the dominant feminine being. Given the association of the circle with the moon’s feminine cycle, it had a crucial influence on fertility and so it was in the circular hut that human beings were created. The hut was thus perceived as a creator and protector. In pre-colonial times, most houses in rural areas were made using non-durable materials such as reed, clay and wooden stakes. With increased urbanization, however, building materials have radically changed. In the mid-20th Century, many urban habitations were made of precarious materials such as cardboard, zinc and pieces of wood. During the nineteenth century, rural communities hitherto living relatively isolated were gradually forced to engage with the advancing colonial powers. New aesthetic norms and housing materials challenged and partially replaced previous approaches. The rectangular form of the house was brought to urban areas by Arab merchants and Islamic religious movements. Still, it was the colonial penetration, which made Africans imitating the houses ‘belonging to the whites’ in an attempt to convert material constructions into improved social positions and prestige.   Morten Nielsen


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