May 24, 2016

0084, 2573 GHANA - Traditional Huts

Posted on 27.12.2011, 24.05.2016
Unlike the polite architecture, the vernacular architecture is based on local needs and construction materials, and reflects local traditions, responding primarily to the functional requirements. As a result, even though Ghana is a multiethnic country, the traditional huts from across the country share many common features. Since the climate of Ghana is tropical, therefore hot, the houses were mostly used for storage and sleeping, while the rest of the activities were mainly done outside.

In the first and the third pictures are huts from the northern region, most probably belonging to Dagaaba people, an ethnic group who lives in Upper West Region of Ghana and in the south of Burkina Faso. I'd say it's a kampili, made from sun-dried mud and thatch. Usually, this kind of building has three rectangular rooms: a zage (a hall) and two other rooms which should enclose a yard. In the second and the fourth pictures are also huts from the northern region, rounded this time, with cylindrical walls of mud and conical thatched roof, also characteristic to the Dagaaba people.

In the fifth picture is Yaw Tano Shrine. Located in Besease, to the north-east of Kumasi, in Ashanti Region, it is part of Asante Traditional Building, a collection of 13 traditionally built buildings from the time of the Ashanti Empire, a UNESCO WHS since 1980. Described as "home of men and gods", they are the last remaining material testament of this civilization, because the majority of the Ashanti villages were destroyed during the 19th century in the wars undertaken by this people against English domination between 1806 and 1901 (including a royal mausoleum).

A series of poles and wooden imposts linked by bamboo slats form the framework which supports the very steep thatched roof, and the floor is of puddled clay. A rich decor of earth-facing over a core of wood reigns over the principal facade. The buildings are whitewashed on the outside and the decoration consists of geometric, floral, animal, or anthropomorphic motives. It dates from approximately 1850, but it was fully restored in 1998. Unfortunately the preservation of these structures built from heterogeneous material poses a difficult, if not insoluble, problem.

In the sixth picture are lacustrian buildings from Nzulezu Stilt Settlement (located on Lake Tadane, near Beyin, in Western Region), which appear on the tentative list of UNESCO WHS, because "stands out as a magnificent interplay between man and his environment". According to tradition, the ancestors of the village were brought from Walata (a city in ancient Ghana Empire, located in what is now southeastern Mauritania, and Western Mali) to their present place under the guide of a snail.

In the seventh picture is a dilooraa, made also from mud, but with flat roof. It probably derived from kampili in the areas where the wood has become rare and was replaced with the same material used for the walls. Rainstorms have no effect on such buildings. On the left can be seen a ladder leading to the roof. In times of hot weather the inhabitants sleep on them at night. They also dry their grains there. The buildings from the last image, surrounded by fences reinforced with buttresses, look completely different than the others, but unfortunately I cann't say anything about them.

About the stamps
On the postcard 0084
The stamp is part of a set issued in 2009 for Centenary of the Birth of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (1909-2009). The four stamps in the series shows the first president of the Republic of Ghana at various international conferences and meetings. The one from my postcard depicts Nkrumah at Afro Asian Solidarity Conference.

On the postcard 2573
The stamp is part of the series Fruits & Vegetables about which I wrote here.

Asante Traditional Buildings - UNESCO official website
Asante Traditional Buildings - Ghana Museums and Monument Board
Nzulezo - Wikipedia
Traditional Houses in the North West of Ghana -

Sender 0084: Emmanuel Bonsie (direct swap)
Sent from Accra (Ghana), on 06.12.2011
Sender 2573: ???
Sent from ??? (Ghana), on ??.??.2014


  1. Thank you very much Danut. I must say your article is a great one and I am impressed especially by your knowledge about the history of Ghana. Well,what you said about Africa are true to a large extent,but I think Africa,as at now is better seen than heard. So,you'll find time to visit,though. I do accept your apologies wholeheartedly! And I look forward to more contacts with you. Thanks. Emmanuel Bonsie (Ghana,West Africa).

  2. Thank you on my turn, Emmanuel. Keep in touch.