"For example, among the Suku of Zaire, among whom I worked, the life expectancy of a hut is about ten years. The typical biography of a hut begins with its housing a couple or , in a polygynous household, a wife with her children. As the hut ages, it is successively turned into a guest house or a house for a widow, a teenagers’ hangout, kitchen, and, finally, goat or a chicken house — until at last the termites win and the structure collapses. The physical state of the hut at each given age corresponds to a particular use. For a hut to be out of phase in its use makes a Suku uncomfortable, and it conveys a message. Thus, to house a visitor in a hut that should be a kitchen says something about the visitor’s status; and if there is no visitors’ hut available in a compound, it says something about the compound-head’s character—he must be lazy, inhospitable, or poor."
Igor Kopytoff, The Cultural Biography of Things, 1986