In his 1943 paper titled Theory of Human Motivation, Abraham Maslow documented his findings on the topic of universal needs of society. The bottom-up classification, illustrated in the said paper, coined the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The widely discussed theorem recognizes shelter as a basic need.
Over the centuries, housing has evolved to suit the advanced needs of modern societies but the traditional Rwandan house will remain a powerful symbol of cultural significance.
Our forefathers boasted advanced construction skills. Their construction procedures were meticulously implemented. There is meaning attached to each piece of material used. Their dimensions and measurements adhere to important cultural norms. The etiquette of their domestic affairs was observed religiously.
Last year, I had a traditional construction experience in Kanjongo Sector, Nyamasheke District. After spending a night in a replica of the 19th Century royal court, I had an opportunity to fulfil my life-long dream: Learning to build the way our forefathers used to do it.
Ecolodges, built the traditional way, are springing up across the country. This trend is reviving the past and putting history into perspective. However, most new so called traditional cabins come with showers, electricity, Wi-Fi and other modern amenities — suiting the needs of today’s travelers.
The traditional Rwandan house is re-emerging in contemporary architecture too. The designer of the Kigali Convention Center’s dome, for instance, was inspired by the famed traditional house.