The most impressive buildings are all owned by churches. Ndanda Abbey and the Anglican Cathedral at Mtandi are both over 100 years old. If the Christians had been content with just building churches they would not have lasted long in this area where Islam was already well entrenched. The original Benectines of Ndanda were from Germany and they had a reputation as builders which continues to this day with Tanzanian as well as German Fathers, brothers and Sisters. Of course their buildings have all been built with labour from local people, skilled and unskilled. To improve skills the Abbey has a Trade School. To improve lives they have built many schools, a major hospital as well as a leprosy hospital.
The Anglicans actually founded Masasi together with a group of freed slaves who were being accompanied back to the interior. The story is told in “The History of the U.M.C.A. in Central Africa”, how the ex-slaves had walked all the way from the coast with Bishop Steere and having arrived at Masasi declared their intention to stay in that admirable place. They had permission from the local chief of the Makua people. Building a church (at Mkomaindo) was an early priority but later when the missionaries overcame their various difficulties they found enough resources and energy to build schools, a hospital and as mentioned before an elegant cathedral for the enormous Diocese of Masasi. This link will take you to a photos of the hospital at Mkomaindo; http://www.flickr.com/photos/12810885@N07/1336716763/
Relatively few Africans live in mud huts with grass roofs. From the outside they may look small but a family can have several ‘huts’ and they don’t have overcrowding like city dwellers do in their small houses or apartments. Many building styles exist, some using bamboo with no trace of mud, and where mud is used it will usually be on a skeleton framework of wood. This will last for years with a good roof to divert the heavy tropical rain. These days in Masasi District mud is used to make bricks for much stronger walls and galvanised steel sheets are used for the roof.