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Family and housing in Ethiopia

The extended family arrangement is frequently found among Ethiopian families since children, male or female, who have married continue to live with their family.

Young waitress in a restaurant in Hawassa

Young waitress in a restaurant in Hawassa

In some cases, unmarried aunts, uncles, cousins and even close family friends continue to dwell with the nuclear family. This form of family arrangement has therefore been responsible for enlarging the membership of the extended family.

Brother and sister in Ethiopia

A young girl carries her little brother on her back while going to the lake to fetch water

Most people in Ethiopia earn recognition through their extended family structure. The family’s honor is achieved through acceptable deeds and behaviors of the family members. The family is given emphasis in that family priorities should be met first before anyone else’s needs. An important part of many families in Ethiopia is animal stock, because all over the country it is essential to have either some cattle, horses, donkeys or even camels one cannot survive.

Man herding donkeys

Man herding his donkeys up from the well through a sandy and dusty road. Photo by Mikkel Grabowski

Not only the livestock is descriptive for the culture and the social and economic status, also the houses tell alot about the culture and the nature. As can be seen, a traditional rondavel constructed from made of finely attached branches and small trees, then clad with mud and fitted with a roof made of grass.

girl and rondavel

A young girl stands in front of her home - a traditional rondavel which is the most common building technique outside the bigger cities. Photo by Mikkel Grabowski

In the towns and cities houses are usually walled constructions fitted with a fixed metal or mud roof as is known from other cities around the world. Even tall skyscrapers are to be found in Addis Ababa. In such ways Ethiopia reunites ancient historical traditions like the Dorze traditional building style.

Bamboo roof in Dorze village

A traditional house in the small mountain village Dorze near Arba Minch in southern Ethiopia

In Addis the newest trends in architecture ads in to this and creates a very fascinating mix that gives Ethiopia yet another dimension of “uniqueness”.

Ethiopia, harar

Young people walking in the street at dusk in Harar

The architecture in Ethiopia thus reflects its cultural diversity.

Dassanach hut

The Dassanach people of southern Ethiopia and the Omo valley have seminomadic migration patterns that relates to the rain and greener pastures for their livestock so their houses are not built to be permanent structures in the landscape, but merely as periodical shelters

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