Tiébélé, a village in the Centre-Sud region of Burkina Faso, is the home to some amazing traditional Gourounsi architecture. I was able to visit during a mid-morning break during the bike tour’s ride from Beka to Pô.
The red or white homes are elaborately decorated with various patterns, which all have meaning. For example, snakes and crocodiles are drawn for protection. Each structure is built with defense from both the climate and potential enemies in mind. Each wall is over a foot thick and the homes are designed without windows (except for a small opening or two to let just enough light in to see. Front doors are only about two feet tall, which keeps the sun out and difficult for enemies to strike. Roofs are protected with wood ladders that are easily retracted and the local beer (dolo) is brewed at home rather than risk drinking potentially poisoned brew in town. Most importantly, however, is that the houses say incredibly cool during the day – it’s a shame this building style isn’t used more often here.
A few more modern buildings are scattered in with the rest, but still have the same visual style. I especially liked the one below with its homemade weightlifting materials out front.