Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The BBC's mudhut thread (not).

In 11 photos deemed by the BBC to represent African architecture, they were so keen to avoid the old stereotype about African buildings that the only photo of the typical dwelling -at least sub-sahara- the mud hut, was taken from inside, shot through a window. The limited view this gives is insufficient to get any idea of the classic staple dwelling of African life.

The twee PC narrowness of all this strikes me particularly forcibly since I was recently reunited with my large collection of Kenya photos, gained while living there seven years ago. I have mud huts galore, teeming compounds, ancient defensive structures, newly built churches, valleys gleaming with tin roofed huts. I also remember shiny clean smooth and cool concrete flooring, rafters in some buildings, raised maize barns; there was something of a genre but with more variations than you could express in words.

I wish I were in a position to download some photos, but here is an inferior example. However, I am sickened that the BBC is so narrow-minded as to think that showing the reality of African architecture in a more balanced way would be prejudicial against Africans. I don't really care if they would get complaints from Africans themselves, since the real African-in-nature so to speak would be unlikely to be among the complainants, while it is our BBC, and we deserve to know how others live. Architecture, I am sure many trendy enough architects would say, is about living spaces. The BBC have ignored the living spaces of Africans in favour of some political correctness. And that is typical.

Knowledge is key. I slept in many a mud hut and I loved many of them. Cool, calm, airy, sometimes even reasonably light. One has to bear in mind the warm temperatures and the hot, intense sun. Many was the time I sheltered beneath the drooping eaves of a mud hut. True, some were dirty, but most were not, and that's just as it is anywhere when it comes to interiors. Most were tidier than my current flat, anyway.

Google Custom Search