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Canada Certified Agent

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Lesson 1, Topic 5
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IELTS Reading – Heading Matching

Yoruba Town

A.   The Yoruba people of Nigeria classify their towns in two ways. Permanent towns with their own governments are called “ilu”, whereas temporary settlements, set up to support work in the country are “aba”. Although ilu tend to be larger than aba, the distinction is not one of size, some aba are large, while declining ilu can be small, but of purpose. There is no “typical” Yoruba town, but some features are common to most towns.

B.   In the 19th century most towns were heavily fortified and the foundations of these walls are sometimes visible. Collecting tolls to enter and exit through the walls was a major source of revenue for the old town rulers, as were market fees. The markets were generally located centrally and in small towns, while in large towns there were permanent stands made of corrugated iron or concrete. The market was usually next to the local ruler’s palace.

C.   The palaces were often very large. In the 1930’s, the area of Oyo’s palace covered 17 acres, and consisted of a series of courtyards surrounded by private and public rooms. After colonisation, many of the palaces were completely or partially demolished. Often the rulers built two storey houses for themselves using some of the palace grounds for government buildings.

D.   The town is divided into different sections. In some towns these are regular, extending out from the centre of the town like spokes on a wheel, while in others, where space is limited, they are more random. The different areas are further divided into compounds called “ile”. These vary in size considerably from single dwellings to up to thirty houses. They tend to be larger in the North. Large areas are devoted to government administrative buildings. Newer developments such as industrial or commercial areas or apartment housing for civil servants tends to be built on the edge of the town.

E.   Houses are rectangular and either have a courtyard in the centre or the rooms come off a central corridor. Most social life occurs in the courtyard. They are usually built of hardened mud and have roofs of corrugated iron or, in the countryside, thatch. Buildings of this material are easy to alter, either by knocking down rooms or adding new ones. And can be improved by coating the walls with cement. Richer people often build their houses of concrete blocks and, if they can afford to, build two storey houses. Within compounds there can be quite a mixture of building types. Younger well-educated people may have well-furnished houses while their older relatives live in mud walled buildings and sleep on mats on the floor.

F.   The builder or the most senior man gets a room either near the entrance or, in a two storied house, next to the balcony. He usually has more than one room. Junior men get a room each and there are separate rooms for teenage boys and girls to sleep in. Younger children sleep with their mothers. Any empty room are used as storage, let out or, if they face the street, used as shops.

G.   Amenities vary. In some towns most of the population uses communal water taps and only the rich have piped water, in others piped water is more normal. Some areas have toilets, but bucket toilets are common with waste being collected by a “night soil man”. Access to water and electricity are key political issues.

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