Ndebele hut


Beaux- quet ( craft project)


These are Ndebele [uhn-duh-bee-lee] huts in Africa (where I was born). They are so colourful and beautiful. An art form of pure genius architecture all in their own right. I love them.


I was inspired to get my girls to make one of these huts and also my art students.
It turned out a lot harder than it looks. But a lot of fun.

I thought I’d get my girls to construct a hut together. Hmmmmm… Bad mistake.

Eden did all the beautiful colouring of the Ndebele geometric shapes and Jessica constructed a tottery ( cute) hut. We put it all together. But then Jessica (5yrs) fell apart because she believed the hut was hers and hers alone. But Eden (7yrs) had the same thought!!!!

Josh ( my husband) arrived home from work to find craft scraps all over the lounge floor and two very teary and indignant sisters pulling at a cardboard hut.
He then offered to slice the hut in half and give half to each of the girls ( like the old wise King Solomon did in the bible with two women who wanted the same baby…. You may know the story).

Well that idea did not go down well in the least and just induced more tears!!!
Note to self: do not attempt craft at the end of the day when kids are ratty and overtired.

I took the hut away and ” banished them” from it for the last hour of the night until bed time. After a lesson on sharing is caring!!!!


Anyway – back to the hut craft. Firstly I drew simple geometric shapes with a black marker and ruler.
The geometric blocks were coloured in with textas.


This is a picture of a real Ndebele hut wall (above). The white blocks inbetween really make it look fresh. Kids tend to want to colour each shape in, instead of leaving a few white.


Next we cut black cardboard and rolled it into a cylinder shape and stapled the sides together.
Next the roof was made with a paper plate. Cut to the centre of paper plate and fold edge around to make cone shape and staple.


Next stage is to snip 1cm cuts around the one end of black cardboard and bend snips out ( as seen below).


Then staple or sticky tape this to the paper plate roof.


Stick Ndebele decorations onto the side of the hut walls with glue. Optional: cut a door opening.
Next we went into the garden and collected “thatch”. It wasn’t actually thatch but dried cats-tails plants. We snipped these with scissors and tied into bundles with sticky tape.


I grew up on a farm in South Africa and I have vivid memories of real thatch roofs on the farmhouse and the workmen up ladders laying new thatch every so often. Such a clever thing to do. I haven’t seen an actual thatch roof since being here in Australia.

When I explained to my kids and art students that these Ndebele hut walls were actually made from real dung and mud mixed together they were horrified.


Anyway – the thatching bit was very challanging for the students. It’s quite a tricky process. But some really got the knack of it.
They glued the bundles to the roof and the Ndebele hut was complete.


Needless to say – I did not even attempt this final “thatching the roof ” stage with my overtired little girls. Only with my art students.


My girls Ndebele hut is now officially Rapunzel’s home and the roof remains white….

Happy constructing everyone!!

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2 Comments

Filed under Beaux-quet

2 responses to “Ndebele hut

  1. Abby

    So cute and loved the backgroung history. Best laid plans NEVER go the way they should. Poor kids and poor tired mummy xx

  2. Pingback: Homeschool Hub–Where in the World? Africa | LibrErin

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