Mud houses have become a relic in typical Nigerian villages with increasing number of affluent citizens. The mud house, noted for its natural cooling effect and the low capital requirements to construct has been relegated to mere relic for moviemakers and ancestral shrines. Moviemakers use the mud and thatched houses to remind us of primordial and primitive age when people did not have access to the corrugated iron sheets used in modern building. Very often too, some notable hotels build some of the thatch huts rejected because of civilisation and use them to entice tourists and would-be clients. Civilisation has a habit of repeating itself especially when the tool for such civilisation can be classified as a fashion in vogue.
Mud, regarded a nuisance in many areas of the world, is considered a chief building material in other areas of the globe. Clay soil is found in abundance on this planet, providing its inhabitants with sturdy homes. The remarkable thing about mud brick structures is their durability, with some mud buildings lasting for a thousand years.
Taos Pueblo is an ancient dwelling in New Mexico, continuously inhabited for about 1,000 years by the Pueblo native people. The mud brick homes are made of sun dried mud bricks, which are coated with an adobe plaster. Southwestern adobe is made of clay soil called caliche, mixed with straw for added strength. The walls are thick, and are re-plastered annually, as part of a village ceremony. The roofs are made of cedar trees, and ladders are used from the outside of the dwellings to reach the second flood.
Bam had its beginnings as a prosperous trading centre on the famous Silk Road, during the Sassanian period (224-637 AD). Bam produced silk and cotton garments for trade. Located in southeastern Iran, Bam was constructed entirely of mud bricks made of clay soil and palm tree trunks. Thick walls, with 38 watchtowers protected the citadel, which covered six square kilometres, and contained a series of underground water canals, supporting about 12,000 people. Unfortunately, the 2003 earthquake in Bam destroyed more than half the city’s houses and the historic mud-brick citadel.
In the minds of average rich man in Nigeria, the primordial mud house was shelter for the poor in the society. They see mud and thatch houses as symbols of the level of poverty of those living in them. This gave reason for the quick elimination of thatch houses in the interior villages. Today, most rich men do not build their guest houses and cottage homes without a little mud or thatch house nearby. The importance of the mud houses cannot be overemphasised because aside being cool during hot weather and providing some level of warmth during the harmattan season, government taxes are not extended to them. The raw materials are easily assembled with little efforts. You can also introduce all the home tools and kitchen items within the house. Again, in the event of any natural disaster, it will not take time to rebuild.
A hut isn’t all that bad – a circular or square base bungalow building with a thatched roof and mud or adobe walls made from local materials. Vernaculars, which are degradable and great for the environment. Combine them skilfully, they create a hut, which keeps one warm enough in the monsoon and cool in the heat of the sunny dry season. The beauty of the hut is that it has become common place with exotic locations and tropical getaways. Think a few weeks in paradise, think of huts on slits. One would think Nigeria would be smart enough to stick to this awesome piece of architecture. But no. The country rather decided on urbanisation on the scale of the Mongol empire. Right through the 1950s, the building boom made sure huts weren’t an option. The urban centres are filled with monuments to our obsession for massive structures, living quarters and office buildings.
Religious centres, social and cultural locations form clutters around always crowded plazas, social amenities easily facilitating the ease of living. Nigeria has even gone as far as filling the countryside with concrete structures and infrastructure in one sprawling urbanisation. More so, we are now reclaiming lands from the ocean to satiate our lust for really tall urban habitations and offices.
Earning its reputation for being difficult to access, Timbuktu is situated in Mali, West Africa. The Djinguereber Mosque was constructed in 1325 and boasts unusual looking minarets with timbers poking out, reminiscent of American Southwest’s Viga structures. Because Mali gets such sparse rain, the Djinguereber Mosque, made of mud and straw, maintains its form and strength from its constant sun baths. As are many of the world’s mud buildings, this one once sat on a busy camel-travelled gold and salt route.
One of the top tourist attractions in Morocco, Ouarzazate, is an incredible looking place. With its clay made kasbahs, it looks as if it were a made-to-order movie set. In fact, you may already have seen Ouarzazate as many films have been made there (Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars and Gladiator, to name a few). Being on the edge of the Sahara Desert, Ouarzazate is a popular stopping point for travellers to and from other destinations, offering plenty of shopping and hotels. Aït Benhaddou is one of Ouarzazate’s ancient walled cities. Inside the high mud walls are six kasbahs and a small number of homes, housing roughly eight families. For the photographer, this dry region has few rivals, and it is said to be the most beautiful in the late afternoon and during sunset.
Although Nigeria and many African countries are admired for being raw materials and commodity markets, a study of importation in the country shows that Nigeria has spent as much as N19.5 trillion on the importation of primary raw materials that include building materials into the country in the past seven years.
Statistics obtained from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) showed that between 2010 and 2015, Nigeria spent N13.6 trillions on the importation of raw materials and building materials that could be replaced with other materials from local sources if some more rigorous work could be put into the country’s import substitution strategy.
This is correct, yet government officials and those who read such things in the universities that are made leaders for that have abandoned them for easy and finished products.
By 2016, the country spent another N5.89 trillion on the importation of similar raw materials, thus bringing the total sum spent on the importation of primary raw materials into the country within the seven-year period to N19.5 trillion. The imports in 2016 included some finished products. This means that on the average, the country splashed N2.79 trillion every year in the past seven years to import building materials and other raw and finished materials.
How to get rid of ants (Side bar for page 4 (Focus)please)
Put an end to most ant problems with inexpensive products from the home centre or hardware store, and save the expense of hiring an exterminator. Start by identifying the type of ant in your house so you can find out its nesting habits and have a better idea of where they’re living (they may be nesting outdoors). Take a close-up photo of the ant and send it to your local university extension service (enter your state’s name and “university extension service” into any online search engine). The extension service will tell you the type of ant you’re dealing with and where it nests. They may give you fact sheets about the ant species and maybe even some advice on getting rid of that particular ant species.
A clean house is your first defence against ants. Sweep up food crumbs, wipe up spills, take out the garbage and don’t leave dirty dishes sitting around the house. This takes away the ants’ food source. Spray vinegar mixed with water around bowls of pet food to keep ants from feasting there.
Where you see one ant, you’re bound to see others. That’s because ants leave a scented trail that other ants follow. Sweeping or mopping isn’t enough to eliminate the scent. Instead, mix one part vinegar with three parts water in a spray bottle, then spray wherever you’ve seen ants in the past. This will stop outdoor nesting ants that entered the house to forage for food (ants that come inside are not necessarily trying to establish a nest). Vinegar and water won’t stop ants that are already nesting indoors. You’ll need to kill them with ant bait.
When you see an ant, your first impulse is probably to step on it. But don’t. You’ll kill it, but for every ant you see, there may be hundreds more hiding in the house. The ones you see are scout ants, foraging for food to take back to the colony. Use these scouts to wipe out the entire colony. Prebait ants in areas you’ve previously seen them. Ants’ tastes change during the year. They usually prefer protein in the spring and sweets or fatty/oily foods in the summer. Set out sugar or honey, fried food and peanut butter, then see which food attracts ants. Use whichever food they prefer for bait.
Once you know what the ants like, buy and set out toxic ant bait that’s geared to their taste. Look on the bait package for words like “controls both sweet and grease eating ants.” Once you’ve set out toxic ant bait, expect to see lots of ants (initially). That’s a good thing. It means more ants are taking the bait (which is toxic) back to the colony where they’ll share it with the rest of the ants, including the queen, and kill them. There might be thousands of ants back at the nest.
Liquid bait works best for many sweet-loving ants. Other ants prefer solid bait. If you still have ants after two weeks, replace the bait containers. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to hunt down the nest. Sometimes the solution to an ant problem is getting rid of their nest. If you’re dealing with carpenter ants, which can do structural damage to your house, it’s vital that you wipe them out ASAP. Finding the nest may not be easy and takes some detective work. Ants generally prefer damp areas, such as framing or flooring that’s soft and spongy from a plumbing or roof leak. Start by looking for areas with water damage. Attics, bathrooms and exterior walls are obvious candidates.
Cut small holes in water-damaged walls to track down the ant nest. (You’re going to have to repair the walls anyway.) When you find the nest, spray it with an insecticide that contains bifenthrin, permethrin or deltamethrin (look on the label). Ortho’s Home Defense Max is one brand. Be sure to fix the water leak and replace damaged wood. If you can’t track down the nest, hire a pest control service. Professionals spend about 80 per cent of their time hunting down nests. Their fees start at about $150, but tough cases with multiple treatments can cost $400 or more.