South Africa: Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) Awareness Campaign


Indigenous peoples throughout the world and South Africa in particular, have sustained their unique worldviews and associated knowledge systems for millennia, even while undergoing major social upheavals as a result of transformative forces beyond their control. Many of the core values, beliefs and practices associated with those worldviews have survived and are beginning to be recognised as having an adaptive integrity that is as valid for today’s generations as it was for the past generations. The depth of indigenous knowledge rooted in the long inhabitation of a particular place offers lessons that can benefit everyone, from educator to scientist, as we search for a more satisfying and sustainable way to live on this planet.


The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform through the Chief Directorate: Technology, Research and Development, has embarked on an awareness campaign on indigenous knowledge at Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) sites in the nine provinces. The first phase of the campaign, which has already started, has been to two provinces, that is Limpopo, North West and it will be going to KwaZulu-Natal soon. The following awareness campaign workshop will be held in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday 8 October 2011.


The awareness campaign project primarily seeks to recognise, collect, document, restore and exhibit Indigenous Knowledge System(IKS), in order to protect, preserve and promote their existence. Secondly, the project intends to empower rural communities on ways through which they can improve their socio-economic status using IKS, such as patenting and commercialisation of their IKS products and instil pride in their use of IKS.


The awareness workshops are organised in two sessions: the first session consists of traditional activities like music, dance, poetry including food like African cuisine, sorghum beer and the second is a gala dinner with guest speaker who is an expert on indigenous knowledge.


Actions currently being taken by indigenous people in communities throughout the world clearly demonstrate that a significant “paradigm shift” is under way in which indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing are beginning to be recognised as consisting of complex knowledge systems with an adaptive integrity of their own. As this shift evolves, it is not only indigenous people who are the beneficiaries, since the issues that are being addressed are of equal significance in non-indigenous contexts including promotion of national sustainable development. Most of these indigenous knowledge systems and innovations are not documented for use in various aspects of socio-economic development due to various factors including lack of human resources.


The rationale behind the IKS unit is therefore, to conduct research in local communities so that these IKS can be documented, preserved, protected and utilised for sustainable development and community livelihood.


Source: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform

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