Culture has remained one of the most remarkable aspects of human existence. It has proven its indispensability by surviving the battering and bantering from both intangible and tangible concepts such as ‘globalization’ and ‘International Style’ respectively. It is a fact that, the cultural history of any people is a crucial factor in understanding the things they hold as the essence of their living. One of the best ways to preserve a people’s culture and history is to preserve their traditional built environment, because it is one significant arena within which this drama continuously unfolds. The
The cultural history of any ‘group’ of people is a crucial factor in understanding the things they hold as the essence of their living. One of the best ways to preserve a people’s culture and history is to preserve their traditional built environment, which is, yet again crucial, to the achievement of sustainable and decent living.
Urban housing of developing countries is most susceptible to threats consequent of a number of reasons - rapid population growth, over-urbanization, rising slums etc. Rural-urban migration is the major factor leading to rapid sub-Saharan African urban growth, which in many cases, give rise to slums. Designers, planners, developers, etc., have been trying to proffer solutions, but the problems have persisted. One major reason for this persistence could be the lack of understanding of the urban ‘informality.’
Critiques of urban areas have often been from the perspective of ‘formal-informal’ duality. The formality/informality relationship in urban housing has been a subject of extensive debates. The debates often manifesting epistemologically, in either of four ways; conceived as a spatial categorization represented by the ‘slum’ vs ‘nonslum’, conceived as an organizational form, in terms of labour being ‘formal’ vs ‘informal’, materializing as government tool, deployed as an organizational device for determining forms of intervention, or conception of the duality as a negotiable value. Despite stereotyping of the ‘informal’ , including traditional settlements, in terms of their ‘illegitimate’ status within the urban milieu, current trends in urban housing show the implementation of experiences from the ‘informal’ sector, to create ‘hybrid’ urban settlement designs adaptable to the ‘desirable’ urban milieu. Hence, traditional urban architecture, largely driven by culture, is not anachronistic. Furthermore, the socio-cultural dispositions of a people define, largely, their physical environment, which is a culmination of their socio-cultural attitudes reflecting the physical and cultural character of their daily life – referred to as vernacular landscape.
Within this landscape, the most important unit is the family, and especially the extended family, which dominates the African society, which is a culmination of their socio-cultural attitudes, reflecting the physical and cultural character of their daily life. The extended family is very essential in that, traditionally, the social system requires utmost cooperation within members of the family. In fact even in some European countries, the extended family system is fast growing.
The traditional urban
The Gidan-gaado is of crucial urban importance because, even with the so-called ‘informal’ status, it has been accommodating a large chunk of the urban population in terms of housing. However, despite this importance, it has had to contend with negative affection, portrayed by the near-total neglect in the urban affairs. Notwithstanding that one of the ideals of sustainable urbanization is to grow an urban area with appropriate level of positive quality of life, but the status-quo has to be thoroughly explored, exposed, and exploited before the ideal is achieved. Hence, this study seeks to investigate the various roles the Gidaajen-gaado played in the context of sustainable urban development.
Brief Introduction to Keffi
Even though much literature on the history of Keffi town submitted that, the original name of the town,
Abdu Zanga, a Muslim Fulani man, founded
The cultural history of any ‘group’ of people is a crucial factor in understanding the things they hold as the essence of their living on earth. It is therefore equally crucial to preserve the components, elements, or domains, which constitute that essence. One of the best ways to preserve a people’s culture and history is to preserve their traditional built environment, which is, yet again crucial, to the achievement of sustainable and decent living. Traditional or vernacular built environment is generally organic which is quite harmonious and integrated with the cultural and behavioral value systems of the occupants (Al-Thahab et al, 2014) – an assertion that is evident in the sequence and hierarchy of traditional residential spaces. Traditional residential buildings or simply, domestic architecture, rather than traditional public buildings are the focus in this study because they accommodate more pristine socio-cultural and religious aspects of people’s life (Gopinath & Kulkarni, 2014). There is therefore, the need to study a people’s culture and its relation to their traditional houses, together with the ‘family’ as the most significant social unit. In Nigeria, where culture and tradition has had (Larkin, 2008), and still has, strong hold in all its manifestations, the extended family has continued to be a much-respected social unit of reference. Consequently, the abode of the extended family, the Gidan-gaado, is considered an indispensable realm where a person lives and grows to become a responsible member of the larger society.
The Family in Northern Nigeria
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be hospitable to his guest; and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should maintain his kinship ties; and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak well or remain silent.” [Al-Bukhari]
The extended family system has been the most wide spread in the traditional African society, and it sees that each family member contributes to the welfare of the system. This altruistic behavior towards kin of any type – siblings, children, grandchildren, family friends, etc., has endured as human nature (Becker, 1976). Sahlin (1972) in Tripcevich (2007) also showed that, the closer the kinship is, the more positive the reciprocity among members is; Figure
This has been widespread irrespective of religion and ethnic background. The extended family is very essential in that, traditionally, the social system requires utmost cooperation within members of the family. Bingham (2012) captures this by reiterating that families who have been deciding to live under one-roof as a way to ‘survive and thrive’ in hard times, are becoming the norm; in the UK for example, an estimated 48.8million people lived as families back in 2001, and as at 2011, the number had increased to 50.7million (Macrory & others, 2012). A typical extended family constitutes the husband, his wives, children, relatives and in many cases, even unrelated children from other families.
Traditional or vernacular architecture has made suitable provision to accommodate this type of family – the ‘
The traditional ‘Gidan-gaado’ in the urban areas of Northern Nigeria has defied modern architecture in the sense that, it still exists. Equally important is the fact that, it has continued to accommodate increasing number of the extended family, very often without commensurate increase in its perimeter. Furthermore, the relationship of sociocultural and religious dispositions of the occupants with the spatial morphology of the Gidan-gaado is indeed crucial because most of the activities are transacted within the Gidan-gaado. Consequently, more members of the family perpetually occupy more of the space. This has affected the use of space and the socio-cultural activities.
Many families around the world have continued to project their lineage through conservation of their ‘Gidan-gaado’, which typically starts as a compound with a nuclear family. In time, the children, especially males, get married and earn allocation of their own section of the compound, although inheritance of the compound is not usually shared - the father usually constructs the houses.
The ‘Gidan-gaado, is a classical architectural embodiment of the religio- and socio-cultural dispositions of the people of this area. It is an indispensable cultural artifact par excellence (Muhammad-Oumar, 1992); a residential typology that is highly reflective of the history, culture and lifestyle of its people. The Gidan-gaado is a symbol of social identity and family recognition. Figure
Concept of Sustainability
Al-Qurãn, Sûratul Al-A’raf, verse 31
Depending on the context of study or discussion, and to some extent, a matter of choice, the word, ‘sustainability’ has been referred to as , ‘sustainable development’ (Jickling, 1994; Robinson, 2004), as ‘corporate sustainability’ (Mintzberg, 1983; Van Marrewijk, 2003; Anthony, 2016), as ‘corporate social responsibility’ (McGuire, Sundgren, & Schneeweis, 1988; Carroll, 1999; Golob et al., 2014), or as ‘sustainable design/construction’ in the case of architecture and construction (Kibert, 2016; Cortese, 2003; Brown, Hanson, Liverman, & Merideth, 1987). Hence, researchers a lot of times, use them inter-changeably.
Concept of sustainability became popular in the 1980s (Jickling, 1994); when former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland was called on to head a Commission called, World Commission on Environment and Development. As a result of that, the most widely used definition of the word is the one given by the (Brundtland, 1985).
Sustainability is composed of three pillars (Kahriman-Ozturk et al., 2012; ‘Pillars of Sustainability’, 2014; and United Nations, 2015) as in Figure
It is worthy of note that sustainability need to be applied to both human beings and non-humans because animals, insects, birds, etc., also have right to live sustainably for Allaah (632) says in Al-Qur'an 6:38;
Sustainability in Architecture
Earlier than Opatha (2016)’s three major components of sustainability, Zabihi & Habib (2012), looking from the architectural and construction perspective, presented four components – his three and, ‘prudent use of natural resources.’ Architecture plays a crucial role in sustainable development because built environment is one of the greatest influence on quality of life – comfort, security, health, etc. This is more so owing to the fact that 40% of global energy is used by buildings, in addition to 25% of global water, and also emit an approximate of 1/3 of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (United Nations Environment Programme, 2016).
Sustainability in Architecture
About 50% of the world’s population lived in urban areas as at 2011, and by 2030, this is expected to reach about 61% (Jiboye, 2011). By 2050, it would be about 66% (United Nations, 2014). This phenomenal increases would happen mainly in developing countries (United Nations, 2005; UNFPA, 2007; Lloyd-Jones & Rakodi, 2014) like Nigeria. African urban areas have been rapidly expanding, evident in the phenomenon of massive rural-urban migration. Adegun (2011) and other researchers showed that, in 1900, 1950, and 2000, urban population rose from 133m to 225m to 674m respectively. And as United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2007) puts it that, the growth of slums are happening within the poorest cities in the World, a situation that gives rise to extensive cultural disruptions and social instability. This is a consequence of what urbanization is – a process of human agglomeration in multi-functional settlement of relatively substantial size (Mabogunje, 1985).
The urbanization process in Nigeria has been typically very rapid (Smith, 1996; Antai & Moradi, 2010) and phenomenal (Ujoh et al., 2010), resulting in an urban population of 87,680,500 in 2015, which is 48.1 % of the total population, to a population of 95,764,092 in 2017, which is 49.9% of the total population (Worldometers, 2017). Table
The urban traditional Gidaajen-gaado have had to contend with negative affection, portrayed by the near-total neglect in the urban affairs, and described by the sociologist Wacquant (2008) as “territories of urban relegation.” All the neighbourhoods in which the
This research was conducted under the assumption that,
The research also endeavoured to determine the contribution of the Gidan-gaado to achieving urban sustainability in Keffi.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the research was to prove the significance which the
It would furthermore bring to the utmost attention of policy makers to
The study is to establish the role played by urban Gidan-gaado in the socio-cultural lives of its occupants, hence, their perceptions need to be taken. In this regard, the first methodology applied was extensive literature review carried out to establish an exploratory basis for the study. A survey was then conducted to elicit occupants’ perceptions pertaining the study’s aim.
Selection of Research Town
There were five broad criteria for selecting a town for the research. The first was for the town to have been established before colonial invasion. The second criteria was for the town to be within the Northern Nigeria. The third criteria was for the town to be predominantly Muslims in order to avoid issues of religious differences (Schwerdtfeger, 1982).
Quantitative sampling method of ‘stratified sampling’ was used to get the sample population for administration of the survey questionnaires. The population sample was calculated using Raosoft Inc software (Hull & Keim, 2007; ELIAS, 2012; Maharajan & Krishnaveni, 2016). To get the sample size for Keffi, which has a population of 92,664 (‘Keffi’, 2009; Omale, 2016). Table
The pilot survey for this research considered 10% of the main survey sample, which was 27 participants out of which males were 25 and females were 2. After the survey, the reliability of the survey was tested using SPSS, and Table
A structured interview was designed and conducted through purposeful sampling. The sampling was based on 3 basic types of Gidan-gaado identified, which are
Gidan-maalamai (house of scholars), where 5 occupants were interviewed
Gidan-sarauta (house of nobility), where 3 occupants were interviewed
Gidan-sanaa’a (house of traders) – traders, craftsmen, cobblers, etc. Here, 7 occupants were interviewed.
The difference in numbers of interviewees was informed by the fact that, there are more Gidan-sanaa’a than Gidan-maalamai. And Gidan-sarauta are the least in number. The interviews were analyzed using Nvivo 10 software.
Findings from Literature
The Gidan-gaado plays a very important role in the lives of its inhabitants who are an extended family, especially children (‘The Importance of Extended Family’, 2013). One of its impacts is, sustaining cultural identity which gives rise to self-esteem and social stability. (Chen, 2016), who calls this type of family, ‘multigenerational’, submitted several positive impacts of it, and consequently, the house accommodating it, such as:
Experiencing high level of emotional bonding and closeness across generations.
Grandparents providing important role models in the socialization of grandchildren.
Grandchildren learning how to care for their elders.
Spending time with children can bring purpose and meaning to the lives of older generations.
Benefits in terms of finance for members in the sense that, grandparents help care for young children who can then save money.
Provision of companionship, and helping to reduce financial stress.
Looking after, helping and supporting one another.
Earlier, Goody (1989) succinctly captured the phenomenon of the extended family and the Gidan-gaado, that, even new couples continued to be part of the extended family. And that tasks were cooperatively carried out. This value of the Gidan-gaado has been preserved. According to Jiboye & Ogunshakin (2010),
Survey Results and Discussion
Keffi can be said to have retained its cultural heritage in the form of Gidan-gaado. This assertion is depicted in Figure
Most of the respondents live or have lived in Gidan-gaado – 93% in Figure
The Gidaajen-gaado in Keffi mostly accommodate up to three generations of families – grandparents, parents, and children. This account for a cumulative of 78.3% of the respondents with two generations having 39.5% and three generations having 38.8% as shown in Figure
The strong attachment to, and believe in Gidan-gaado is reflected in Figure
Most respondents here agreed that there are more benefits generally, when living in Gidaajen-gaado than outside them. To buttress this point, 63.2% of the respondents in Figure
Analysis of the interviews yielded main and sub-themes that are significant in pointing to the reasons which have made Gidan-gaado so important within the urban Keffi. These themes were
Activities – marriages, birth ceremonies, trading, craftsmanship;
Importance – housing, religious and socio-cultural values, security;
Urbanization – sustainability, migration.
This study set out to establish the role played by the traditional Gidan-gaado, in the sustainability of socio-cultural dispositions of urban Keffi extended families. Using a sequential exploratory approach, the study firstly, carried out extensive literature review to establish an exploratory basis for the study. Secondly, a survey was conducted to elicit perceptions of occupants of the Gidan-gaado. Finally, it critically determined the role played by the Gidan-gaado.
The study established that, despite modernity and urban pressures, occupants still find Gidaajen-gaado to be indispensable in protecting their socio-cultural norms and values. Thus, the Gidan-gaado plays the role of socio-cultural preserver. Furthermore, the study found out that, it plays the role of maintaining the self-esteem of family members – hence it is an identity symbol.
This research acknowledges the support by the Galaadiman Keffi, Keffi Local Government Council, Arc. Yusuf O. Obas, Nigerian Institute of Architects (Nasarawa Chapter), Nasarawa Urban Developmennt Board, and others too numerous to mention here.
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Muhammad, U. F., & Abdullah, W. M. Z. W. (2018). Preservation Of The Gidan-Gaado For Sustainable Urban Development. In M. Imran Qureshi (Ed.), Technology & Society: A Multidisciplinary Pathway for Sustainable Development, vol 40. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1-16). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.05.1