by Jess Cropsey
Our faithful readers will know that there’s been a LOT of construction happening at Kibuye over the last 3 years. Brick is one of the main “ingredients” that is used for beautiful buildings such as this newly completed local school building. You will often see stacks of bricks cooking in a field or sitting by the side of the road waiting to be sold (for about 1 cent a piece).
For Kirundi class at Kibuye Hope Academy, we recently took a field trip (literally walked through a field to get there!) to a local “brick factory” to find out more about this process. We met Irakoze who graciously explained how you mix some dirt but mostly clay (ibumba) together and then put it into a wooden mold (iforoma).
After sprinkling a little dirt on top (to keep it from being too sticky I assume), you pull it out of the mold and set it in neat rows in the sun to dry for 2 days. Irakoze was kind enough to allow the kids to mix the clay with their feet (gukata ibumba) and make bricks using the mold. Not sure if he’ll end up keeping them!
After the bricks (amatafari) have hardened and dried in the sun a couple of days, they are stacked to the side until there are enough to make an ifuru (shown below).
The holes at the bottom are filled with wood to make a fire. The holes are then covered up and the outside of the brick oven is covered in mud or leftover clay to keep the smoke & flames inside.
The bricks cook for about 3-4 days and after that time the color will change from the original gray to a reddish color. Once the bricks are cooled, the mud is removed and bricks are taken from the top. The final step is probably the most labor intensive of them all -- getting the bricks from the field to the side of the road in order to sell them...without a vehicle, a couple at a time. It gives me a new appreciation for all the work that went into making our own homes, not to mention the many other hospital & community buildings that have been built at Kibuye by many Burundian craftsmen (and women). Murakoze (thank you) Irakoze and our Kirundi teachers for such a wonderful learning opportunity.