I was swilling coffee with my Mzungu ladies’ group last week when the topic turned to the skewed impression most Westerns have of Africa. “Mud houses, on arid tundra, and wildlife is what everybody mistakenly thinks comprise the continent,” all agreed, and “what’s wrong with mud houses anyway?”
I offered to do my bit, with camera in hand, to adjust the image to a more accurate depiction.
First, on the subject of mud houses, let it be noted that they are cool in the summer, warm in the winter and can have a history of ten or more years withstanding wind and rain, but they are not nearly as prevalent as they once were.
Many homes are now made of mud bricks, akin to adobe bricks. This type of architecture is popular in the villages and throughout the region.
Our friend, Philly’s is roomy, comfortable and has a lovely view not unusual in Iringa.
Some homes are quite traditional and have beautiful gardens like Liz’s and her husband, Jobst. Theirs is an interesting story as many are here. Liz’s parents came from the UK in her early childhood to follow her father’s banking career. When he was four, in the 1920s, Jobst‘s parents emigrated to Africa to escape the severe depression which was dominating the German Economy after WW I. They procured a significant amount of acreage to start a farm. . He speaks of the amazing adjustment of his mother to farm life from her upbringing in affluent German society and of his father to becoming a farmer with no prior experience in agriculture.
During that period, Tanzania had been taken from German rule by the post war treaty and put under British administration. Later, Jobst’s father’s anti Hitler stance during the pre world war 11 years caused him some business related economic loss in the local German community but ultimately, as the conflict heated up, spared his family from being removed from their farm to a war enemy encampment .
As an adult, Jobst spent his career supervising building projects; their house, which he has modified, attests to his talent for architecture. Their garden is a monument to Liz’s marvelous ability with floral landscape design. The pictures below are of the house, the garden, and Liz and Jobst with Dr. Corrado on a field trip with our English language class. Corrado’s reward for good study was the delicious pleasure of tea served by this very charming, hospitable couple.
And when I do arrive at Kitchangani and see Stan, we are treated to more flowers and some great opportunities for education making a little mud on my shoes seem a trivial irritation:
The University of Iringa might also surprise the crowd with the tunnel mud hut/ wild life vision of Africa with its pretty typical administration bldg, class rooms , dorm rooms punctuated by the indigenous perfect tree . a =”https://bettymuessleblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/2.jpg”>
Of course, the more stereotypical picture of dry tundra –like settings with simpler house constructions has ample representation throughout the Iringa region as well as African continent generally. It is just not the totality of the environment which is remarkably fecund , and while wild life abounds in the national parks, it does not on city streets unless you take in to consideration a husband or two of the Mzungu women who live in the area and therefore shall remain nameless!!!