Although the settlement patterns of communities vary within the various regions of Igboland, a recurring feature in local architecture is the presence of small lodges, known in various Igbo dialects as an 'obi', 'obu', or 'ogbiti'. Situated in a central position within the familial compound, the obi is owned by the family's patriarch and serves as an informal gathering place often used as a parlor for entertainment purposes. Obi were often built with open walls, so as to allow maximum airflow, and with thick, thatch roofing, to provide cool shade from the hot sun.
The obi signifies a man's independence, as it is the desire of every young man to work hard and accumulate enough wealth to go out and establish his own compound and build his own obi. Possession of the obi is often passed down from a father to his okwara (first son), whose duty it is to see that his father's obi is always well-maintained and within the possession of his family. If a son were daring enough as to sell his father's obi, or the land upon which it was built, such a person would be regarded contemptuously.