The Swahili Bed

A Swahili bed and couch

The Swahili bed was in a recent article on MAKE Magazine (a publication that inspired AfriGadget’s creation). In it they discuss why this style of bed is so useful on the hot and humid East African coast.

“In Kenya, the most common and most useful piece of furniture is the rot- and bedbug-resistant Swahili bed.”

“In most houses, you can only find one type of furniture: the Swahili bed. It’s used as a couch, bed, table, and everything else. It’s comfortable and perfect for the hot, humid climate.”

The beds are made from locally grown mvuli or mbamba kofi trees, then straps are created out of palmetto leaves which are soaked in salt water and woven into rope.

Years ago I used to export furniture like this from East Africa, so it’s something that I happen to know quite a bit about. Which provides yet another lesson for those of us who live, or work, in Africa. That is, items that seem mundane to us, as we live our lives in Africa, can be quite exceptional if we only stop to really look.

(via Timbuktu Chronicles)

Author: Erik Hersman

Erik is the owner of White African, a blog about technology and Africa. He is the co-founder of Zangu, a new web and mobile phone application that he hopes will change communication in Africa. AfriGadget is another web project of his, not that he doesn't have enough of those already...

5 thoughts on “The Swahili Bed”

  1. I suspected the link with Make. I have a copy of that mag on my desk right now and would buy more if it wasn’t so expensive!!!

    Nice work.

    I’ve seen weaved beds like these throughout Mozambique although seldom of the quality shown in your photo.

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