Traditional bajuni architecture - focus on the lamu archipelagos

The Bajuni are one of the many tribes in Kenya who traditionally inhabit the Lamu Archipelago as well as mainland towns Mombasa and Malindi. Their lives are tied to the vast Indian Ocean, drawing necessities from it. According to J.T. Juxon Barton their history starts in the lands further north the coast, Somalia, in a region called Dundas Islands.

In the book ‘Reports on the Bajun Islands’ him and other researchers attempted to demystify this most archaic form of Swahili culture; The Bajuni. Although hurriedly done, it shows glimpses of the cultural structure of the Bajuni society before the dispersal from the Dundas Islands.

This study contains description of the Bajuni culture, settlements and houses from the days of old, as well as their transformation and developments to current states. Tradition is used in the thesis to mean repetitive actions, in the patience of faith, popular opinions/ practices, beliefs and customs passed on from generation to generation.

With this concept, it is quite easy to see the transformation aspect coming in. Tradition is based on a non-controlled environment therefore pure continuity is seldom practiced. For example, when the Bajuni were displaced, their culture/ traditions were vastly impacted.
In architecture, tradition/vernacular would mean procedural elements as well as material objects that have become depictions of a society, passed on from generation to generation maintaining a distinct identity.

This thesis therefore seeks to document, trace and finally deduce archival information, transformation and architectural constants of the Bajuni and finally compile an authoritative piece of literature titled ‘BAJUNI TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE' .

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