"But they were still alive, building a new red-earth and thatch house for their teacher, Mr. Kiaga"
Njem house in Cameroon.jpg
GNU Free Documentation LicenseNjem house in Cameroon.jpg - Credit: Amcaja

A thatch house is usually made from red mud, clay, bamboo, wood, and palm fronds.  It is used as a family home (contains a kitchen, bedroom, etc.).