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A family house is an arrangement where the extended families live together, sleep together, work together while upholding the unity found in the families. For many of us who grew up with the modern nuclear family lifestyle, a lot of flexibility and adaptability skills would be needed for us to live in a “Family house”. Many religious institutions have adopted this style of communalism, for instance, the various lodges for serving youth corp members that are found across states. However, this notion of living together in one house was originally traditional. Adedokun (1999), describes it as “that occupied partly or solely by persons whose rights of residence derive directly from common ancestors”. The family house to many people represents a symbol of social identity and community recognition, and regardless of the sometimes deplorable condition of their dwellings, would prefer to live there. It is the house to which the family belongs, and this exists in four different categories. The first category is the oldest, and through time and prolonged association, became identified as the original family house where everybody belongs. Virtually in Yoruba land, everyone within the race belongs to one house typically called “Orirun”, meaning “origin or source of the ancestors”, and sometimes also called “Agbo ile”, meaning “Flock of houses”. The second category is that which is converted to the family house upon the death of the original owner and head of a nuclear family. Upon the owner’s death, the house then passes down to other members of the extended family as an inheritance. The third category of the family house is the one built by a wealthy member of a particular extended family and subsequently decided to allocate certain parts of the house to his or her relations out of free-will. Whereas, the fourth category, is that built through communal inputs from every member of an extended or nuclear family.

Things you discover when living in a Family House  :

 You do not need to pay rent: Yes, you can avoid the trouble that comes with house hunting and landlords. However, the ills of this are that you would lack financial freedom needed to develop a healthy lifestyle.  You gain a lot of informal education: You learn life experiences as there is always someone to tell you about their past. Also, you learn new skills you were never taught in school. This is because informal learning deals with mouth to mouth training and practical exercises as opposed the theoretical lessons you are forced to swallow informal learning. This also means that everybody is in your business. There is a high level of engagement: There is virtually no time for loneliness when you live with your great-grandmother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, parents, and cousins. There is always a level of interaction and you never want to be left behind in activities and conversations. It is the best place to improve your public speaking skills: Practice before a mirror? Not when you have more than enough audience to cheer you up when you need. A family house would help develop your advocacy skills: When you have your sleep interrupted for reasons best known to the family members, or you have arguments, or unholy discussions, you have to invoke your power of persuasion to be released from the shackles of unnecessary troubles, else you arrive late to work the next day. The act of giving becomes very natural: You are very aware that you can’t eat a biscuit all by yourselves without having a mucus filled cousin appear from thin air. Even when you are hungry, you have to pretend to be filled, because you are going to make provisions for everyone, I mean everyone. You can contest for any political post: Your home becomes your constituency, creating electoral manifesto is no longer a problem, and you can ace any public speaking skills, campaign for any political seat you envisage. Your boyfriend/girlfriend may leave you: No one wants someone who is not independent or to be in a relationship where the third-party is a large crowd. Well, good riddance.

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This article was first published on 29th October 2017 and updated on October 30th, 2017 at 2:01 pm


Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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