The indigenous architecture of KwaZulu-Natal in the late 20th century.
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Studies on a variety of facets of the subject of indigenous African architecture have increasingly received the interest of many post-colonial researchers, in search for indigenous African identity in the international world of architecture. One of the challenges that provoked this project is that not many, if any, of those studies in this subject have attempted to find out where the indigenous traditional architecture of the African people can place itself in modern architecture today and what role it could play in the development of our contemporary modern built environment. This study seeks to identify the primary problem and attempt to find answers to certain key questions. One of the problem areas identified in general observations and literature review is the perception that the architecture of the indigenous people of KwaZulu-Natal belongs to itself only, and is not fit to participate in the development of the contemporary urban physical environment other than as a facility for tourism. What makes up the traditional architecture of amaZulu has been understood to be underdeveloped primitive construction materials only. For this reason, studies on the indigenous architecture of KwaZulu-Natal have been done primarily for historical records. A generally acknowledged factor in the development of some prevailing unfortunate perceptions in this subject is the ideology of European supremacy over every sector of life of the indigenes of the African continent. It is such ideological perception that questioned international wisdom in African indigenous architecture and suppressed it from global participation so far. This study investigates the rich cultural forces that directed the history of the indigenous architecture of this region. It also investigates historical socioeconomic factors that have influenced the direction of evolution of the traditional architecture of the indigenes of KwaZulu-Natal. From the latter, one would question the gap between the sophisticated indigenous artwork found in the informal trade of the province and the struggling state of architecture found in the rural built environments of the same people. ii Given that the indigenous people of KwaZulu-Natal today include several groups of abeNguni that merged into a nation over the history of the province, this study acknowledges the diversity of those various groups, and further searches for its global worth.