African Seeds

Zulu huts


Zulu hut

Illustration of a traditional Zulu grass hut
from Scouting for Boys

Zulu hut There is a beehive-style Zulu healer's hut in the Natal National Botanical Garden medicine (muthi) garden.

`The hut was made using mostly traditional materials - common thatch grass Hyparrhania hirta, black wattle Acacia mearnsii (saplings for the hut walls) Natal fig Ficus natalensis bark for tying material, and rock alder Canthium mundanium for the central pole support.

`Unfortunately the floor had to be made of concrete, as the traditional polished cow dung floor did not attract volunteers to do the regular smearing with fresh `polish' that these floors require! In traditional style, the perimeter has been delimited by an indigenous Aloe arborescens hedge.

`The three traditional healers who built the hut were led by Tr Dr Londiwe Xulu, who learnt the art from her mother. After a break of 35 years, she was a little apprehensive, but took on the project with enthusiasm, teaching the other two her skills in the process. The hut has been an eye-catching success and the team are keen to constuct more huts, so if their services are required, please contact the garden.'

- Veld & Flora September 1997

The soaked bark of the Natal fig being prepared as lashings for the beehive hut frame.

Somali hut

Somali hut

Traditional Somali huts built from natural materials also feature in Scouting for Boys.

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Veld & Flora 83 (3) September 1997, the journal of the Botanical Society of South Africa.
Sketches by Baden-Powell in Scouting for Boys