The Tonga people of Southern province are pastoralists. They enjoy living with and among their livestock. But this love for their animals has its own problems. The goats and the cattle will not spare any edible thing in this semiarid land. There is also the perpetual threat of wild animals and the discomfort of the extreme heat during both day and night. These reasons are the main reasons factors that influence the architecture of the Gwembe valley. Houses throughout the Zambezi valley are built on stilts for reasons of security and for a more comfortable sleep as there is better air circulation on the "1st" floor. The Ngazi, as the house is popularly known, are not only used as sleeping quarters, but also for safe storage of grain away from their loved animals.


Reasons for:
Construction of:
Thick poles are placed vertically into the ground. These major poles support the base. Smaller supports support even smaller poles, this is the base of the house which will then be plastered over. This gives not only a floor surface but adds to rigidity. A large number of main supports are needed to hold this weight. Walls also contribute to the weight. The walls are usually plastered over woven bamboo or poles. A thatch roof is added at the end and tied down with bark.
Located exclusively in the southeast part of the country.
Floor Plan
Construction connections
The floor is constructed of larger poles supporting numerous smaller poles holding a plastered floor.
This sketched section shows the thatch roof being supported by a mud wall, into the flooring system and all being held up by larger poles into the ground.
main support poles
plastered floor
Stilt houses are found exclusively in the Kariba valley area home of the Tonga people. The reasons for their unique structures are based on their culture and on geographical conditions.
larger cross poles
bearing pole
roof poles
bamboo and mud
smaller cross poles
main support pole
main cross pole
smaller cross pole
cross beams
plastered floor
plastered floor
roof poles without thatch
thatch roof
smaller cross poles
larger cross poles