Kpelle - Settlements

The traditional Kpelle house is a round one-room, wattle- and-daub hut with a conical thatched roof; however, this type, although found everywhere, nowadays predominates only in relatively remote, unacculturated villages. More common is the square house with three rooms and an open porch, or a rectangular house with two rooms and a very wide open porch. Zinc roofs are gradually replacing thatch, especially where cash employment is common.

Kpelle villages generally accommodate between 50 and 600 persons living in 10 to 150 huts; these numbers may be considerably higher if the village is an important one or is located on a motor road. Villages are often surrounded by considerably smaller farm hamlets; in addition, some families or even individuals live alone, away from a village or hamlet. Larger villages, called "towns" by the Kpelle, are divided into "quarters," named subunits with their own quarter-chiefs. Farms are located away from villages, sometimes at a considerable distance. Villages are generally several kilometers apart, with farm hamlets, if any, dispersed around each village and uninhabited bush between each village-hamlet cluster. Many Kpelle today live as refugees in Guinea and Monrovia because of the civil war.

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