Architecture

Marvels of The Land of Origines

Architecture

The African stilt village

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An Authentic Village

These authentic and simple (yet effective) advertisements about the huts of the lagoon city transport you straight to Francophone West Africa.

You could be in Benin, in the famous lagoon city of Ganvié, but also in Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, anywhere where trucks painted with incantations like “Yala Yana S’en Fout La Mort” load the fish that fishermen have caught in their nets.

Overloaded with goods scraping the red earth, you wonder how they drive. And sometimes how Africa itself functions! Yet, there is a fabulous life and significant economic activity in the “informal” trading markets, as in these lagoon cities that have no equivalent except in Asia.

Hidden in its various huts are treasures of folk art and authentic African craftsmanship. It’s a real village. An African hairdresser braids your hair in her salon, the fisherman’s hut awaits you with nets drying outside, the poultry merchant’s hut showcases the typical African “cycling chickens,” and the shaman’s hut holds mysterious voodoo cult objects…

There’s even a school hut where the Little Smarties, the students who come for internships at Pairi Daiza, can learn all sorts of things about life in a lagoon village.

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Architecture

Temberma village

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Welcome to Warengo

You are in Warengo, a genuine village of the Tamberma tribe, located in a beautiful valley with giant baobab trees, in northern Togo, along the border of neighbouring Benin. You will see two large houses that look like little castles, with their turreted granaries and their high walls. These Tamberma constructions have a unique architecture.

In the Tamberma ethnic tribe (they are called Somba in neighbouring Benin), every young man getting married must build his traditional house, with the help of the whole village. A suitable location, approved by the spirits, is agreed and construction begins, lasting around two months. The walls are made of banco, a mixture of earth, gravel, clay and water which is shaped into large overlapping sections, reinforced with poles, with a large slab forming the roof of the ground floor areas. There is only one entrance, which is quite narrow and which protects from outside dangers. Inside, it is dark. It is the abode of the spirits, it is where sacrifices are made, and it is also where the older members of the family live and…where the animals spend the night.

Half-way up, a room serving as a “kitchen” and upstairs, which is accessed by ladders in the shape of a Y, the large slab where the parents and their children live. When it rains or when the cold harmattan wind blows, they sleep in rooms that are cramped like cells and whose entrance is so narrow that you have to enter facing backwards. It is also from this slab that the granaries are accessed, where the grain is protected from the weather and from rodents.

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The Mersus Emergo

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Have you ever had lunch on a boat? You can do that at Pairi Daiza. The Mersus emergo is a former whale fishing ship that has dropped anchor in the eastern lagoon, seeking forgiveness for its crimes: the slaughter of large whales. Here, you can admire the reptiles and amphibians housed by the Pairi Daiza Foundation.

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