Hut Indulgence – Part 1 the roofing process

The hut roofing process is incredible, the most intricate traditional Acholi craftmanship we’ve seen up close so far. I don’t even begin to understand how Ka Gwa (our legendary roofer) does any of it! I spent an entire language lesson trying to learn the roofing language to talk with him about it, but I barely skimmed the surface. First he cut down a 10 meter tall 30 year old tree, of which the middle 4.5 meters became our center pole. I don’t understand economies sometimes. A 30 year old 10m tall tree is this  6NZD, but its 15NZD for a bag of cement!  The top of the center pole was wedged into a rounded section of tree trunk, the ‘pany’. On top of the pany lie 47 pieces of ‘tuku’, cut from a strong, termite resistant local palm tree. Another palm tree the ‘otit’ is fashioned into long flexible strands which are wound around the hut and tied to the tuku with something similar to flax. The weight resting on the centerpole is enormous. nickhut The grass is then cleaned and sorted into small bundles. One big bundle becomes 5 small. Sorting grass Bundles are then thrown onto the roof, laid in rows and tied down with papyrus rope. Throwing grass As the grass is layered, careful cleaning and layering is done (don’t ask me how) Kagwa on roof Kagwa friend thowing Kagwar drinking plus helper Kagwar on roof Kagwa outside hut For both the huts, this process took about 18 days of work time with between 1 and 3 people working at any one time. The actual time though was over 5 weeks due to Ka Gwar having 4 funerals to attend! His finished work looks amazing as you’ll see on the next blog. Now we nervously await the rains which will be the real test in a months time.

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