The Gabbra inhabit the northern half of Marsabit District, bounded to the south by Marsabit Mountain and the Chalbi desert, to the west by Lake Turkana, to the north by Megado escarpment in southern Ethiopia and to the east by Bula Dera plains just east of Marsabit-Moyale Road …”
Gabbra people settle in settlements called Olla with about 3 to 25 huts. The huts are built in a straight line starting from the elder house to youngest house. The women build makeshift houses on pole frames covered with skins and sisal mats. This has earned the Gabbra and the Rendille the name warra dassee “people of the mat”.
The only structures found in Gabbra olla are mana (huts) that house the people, mona (animal enclosures) hafa (sleeping platforms), sometimes small enclosures for kids and lambs and, in case of the Yaa, the nabo (ritual structures). The Mana (hut) The mana is the Gabbra dwelling unit in which members of a household reside. Members of one family dwell in one mana. However, a man may have as many huts according to the number of wives he has.
Mana is a portable dome-shaped structure and can be dismantled at a moment’s notice. Everything that was used in its construction of the wall is loaded on camels allowing them to achieve residential mobility. The mana has a framework of poles firmly fixed in the ground and bent at the top to make the roof. Thin sticks are tied horizontally and at intervals with cowhide thongs to these poles.
On top of this framework of poles rests a covering of sisal mats (dasse), goat or sheep skins (ithile) and sometimes old pieces of cloth. These are held in place by ropes tying everything down and dried shrubs are used to cover and surround the part of the hut that touches the ground. This helps to ward off sand particles that may be blown by the wind, which would otherwise have entered the huts. All Gabbra huts are similar and all have their doors facing the west. The reason for this is to guard the wind against blowing dust and sand into the houses as the wind blows from east to west.
Each Gabbra hut has a wall which divides the house into two rooms: the bada (sitting room) and the dink (bedroom). There are two sirir, wooden structures found only in the sleeping room used as beds, one to the north for the man, and one to the south for the wife. Two sirir are found in every Gabbra hut.
The bada is the section of the Gabbra hut that is directly in the front as one enters the hut. In the bada, directly opposite the woman’s bed and near the door is the sessum, fireside, with three ovals ibid (fire stones) arranged in opposition to one another. In between two of these ibids is a small stone called lubu. The lubu is a small oblong stone which is of ritual significance to the woman of the house.
On the right-hand side of the door as one faces the west, are found small stones arranged in small circles to hold the water containers (bute) in position. One or two and sometimes three circles are found in one hut each holding a bute in position