Well hello, stranger
Do you remember the weird remedy your grandmother made for you when you got sick? Or the way your grandfather just knew when it was the perfect time to go fishing? To stories about the floods all those years ago? Why you would rather use sticks from one tree than another for fire?
Indigenous medical remedies have aided modern medicines. Scientists have studied herbs like Turmeric and Ashwagandharishta for their medicinal properties suggested in the ancient texts of indigenous communities. The spicey remedy your grandmother gave you may have been more potent than modern medicine. Source: https://www.thermofisher.com/blog/behindthebench/modern-science-backs-up-ancient-knowledge-of-ayurveda/
Your grandparents probably learnt these tricks and stories for their grandparents or elders and gave the knowledge over to you. This is viewed as indigenous knowledge. With how far society has come, we all sit with indigenous knowledge without even knowing it.
Indigenous knowledge is extremely important and while it is being influenced by globalisation and others' perspectives, we all need to find ways to protect our indigenous knowledge. At the end of the day, our indigenous knowledge allows us to live in harmony and unity with nature and each other. But for us to protect it, we must first know what to protect.
Africa displays a variety of cultures and knowledge, along with ecological diversity. Residents of Africa have made use of the indigenous knowledge of both their own culture and other cultures around them, in order to solve environmental and development issues. In a time when globalisation is all around us, we need to remember how important our indigenous knowledge is. After all, the people experiencing a challenge are usually to ones who are able to give great input into a solution.
Indigenous knowledge has been defined by many, but one that stands out for me is “a cumulative body of knowledge, know-how, practices and representations maintained and developed by peoples with extended histories of interaction with the natural environment” - Parasecoli. It describes perfectly what it is while telling us why it is important. Indigenous knowledge is continuously evolving and provides us with knowledge about our surroundings in order to help us survive and adapt to the environment. See that last part? Help US adapt to the environment, not the other way around.
See how Indigenous knowledge is made up of different aspects? This means that every community will have different characteristics and offer a different point of view to the world. Source:https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Generators-of-Indigenous-Knowledge_fig1_279922666
Indigenous Knowledge forms from the experiences, skills, and beliefs of a certain community or group and developed it develops over time, being passed down from one generation to the next. We can even view it as a reservoir of knowledge specific to a cultural or geographical setting. Everything they have ever experienced, be it opportunity or challenge, is stored within their knowledge reservoir “Indigenous Knowledge”. And just like a library, it will continue to grow and expand.
Indigenous agricultural practices will continue to expand. And while the world may few it as being "behind", these communities are able to make more than a living just from the knowledge they have passed down over generations. They are part of the land, for they know every detail possible. Source: https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2019/02/26/indigenous-agriculture-plays-vital-role/
So what can we include in such a library? It’s safe to say that the world around us is more than just one thing, and a library has more than just cookbooks. The same goes for indigenous knowledge, it is everything learned from agricultural skills, health remedies, environmental aspects, cooking, hunting, and the list can go on and on. And we need all of this knowledge to help us survive, I mean where do you think that winter spice mixes your grandmother gave you came from? That was indigenous knowledge.
See how I refer to it as indigenous and not traditional? Well, the term indigenous knowledge is more contentious, inclusive and empowering than the term traditional knowledge. The reason for this is due to globalisation and we end up learning from different groups. Indigenous knowledge is not just traditional knowledge, but also non-traditional knowledge that we learn from others.
There are so many things that influence indigenous knowledge, and yet indigenous knowledge is always unique and relevant to a group of people or a specific location. Source: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40512004#metadata_info_tab_contents
Indigenous Knowledge refers to the knowledge of a community along with its worldview and traditions. Worldviews influence characteristics such as Characteristics include personal knowledge, experiential knowledge and historical knowledge. These types of knowledge are transmitted through stories, actions and demonstrations.
For knowledge to be transferable and adaptable, it needs to be part of a knowledge system. A community may have their own knowledge system, and through the use of the system, information is preserved. These systems are known as Indigenous Knowledge Systems.
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous knowledge systems are a collection of knowledge of a specific community that is indigenous to a geographical area and has existed and evolved over time. Communities form these systems locally and naturally as a way to transfer, preserve and expand their knowledge. Indigenous knowledge systems refer to both the content (information or knowledge) and context (circumstances that produced the system or knowledge) of systems that are produced by indigenous communities.
Every country has something different to offer, not just in natural resources but in people and indigenous knowledge systems. Source: https://sites.google.com/a/seisen.com/tok/areas-of-knowing-overview/indigenous-knowledge-systems
Indigenous knowledge systems have been used as a base for decision-making inside the community. The basis or guideline for decision-making includes information and knowledge, practices of agriculture and food production, medicine and health care and education. This provides the socio-culture knowledge needed for survival in the given environment and culture. Systems are influenced by the external surroundings as well, providing the community with different actions and creativity, allowing them to expand and evolve.
So guys go and think a bit about the indigenous knowledge you have. From whom did you learn it? Why is it important for you to know this? Will you give that knowledge to the next generation, or will you hide it away and not share in the year and years after you have left this life? Let's protect our indigenous knowledge while sharing it with others and promote a more harmonious way of living. Let's aim for unity amongst our people, our countries, nature and our indigenous knowledge. Until next time, take care and stay safe!
Please note that I make use of various articles to form my posts. All articles used are listed below. Feel free to download and read them!
Carm, E. 2014. Inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS)–A Precondition for Sustainable Development and an Integral Part of Environmental Studies. Journal of Education and Research, 4(1), pp.58-76.
Hammersmith, J.A. 2007. Converging indigenous and western knowledge systems, implications for tertiary education (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Africa).
Mapara, J. 2009. Indigenous knowledge systems in Zimbabwe: Juxtaposing postcolonial theory. Journal of Pan African Studies, 3(1).
Parasecoli, F. 2017. Knowing where it comes from: Labeling traditional foods to compete in a global market. University of Iowa Press.
Stevenson, M.G. 1996. Indigenous knowledge in environmental assessment. Arctic, pp.278-291.
Tharakan, J. 2015. Indigenous knowledge systems–a rich appropriate technology resource. African journal of science, technology, innovation and development, 7(1), pp.52-57.