Thursday, October 21, 2010

Listening to the Roots - Focus group on indigenous knowledge #SFAddis

What are the areas of integration of indigenous knowledge in different African contexts? How can indigenous knowledge be active content in future farmer's mind and actions? What can we do to conserve indigenous knowledge for its fair, ethical and active use by all? Indigenous knowledge work is scattered and project based: How can we bring it together and permanent?

These were the leading questions that informed the focus group session on indigenous knowledge at the Agknowledge Africa Share Fair.

Convened by Anke Weisheit (Mbarara University, Uganda) and facilitated by Pete Cranston, the session followed the world cafe methodology, with five speakers offering food for thought with short 5 minutes presentations. The majority of the time available was left for participants to discuss around tables and address the leading questions.

Sylvia Nyana from Penn State University presented on the role of libraries as centers for the dissemination of Indigenous Knowledge. In her view, African libraries should be reinvented from the current Western model to better serve the needs of the communities they want to support.

A different experience was shared by Luke Olang from the IGAD Climate Prediction & Applications Centre (ICPAC) in Kenya. In the initiative he presented, he explained how they are trying to compare traditional ways of 'rain making' or rain forecasting with modern science information, and harmonize the two for climate forecast adaptation at the user level.

Anke Weisheit addressed the issue of institutionalizing indigenous knowledge. The model she presented aims contributing to a better awareness and valuation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems with the aim to harness the potential of Indigenous Knowledge for socio-economic and political transformation.

Three other presenters shared their experience on:
  • Traditional ways and processes that knowledge is created and shared in Africa;
  • The Mwana Alirenji multimedia community project;
  • Indigenous knowledge in utilization of local trees shrubs for Sustainable Livestock Production in Central Tanzania.
You can read more about these experiences on the Agknowledge Africa Share Fair wiki.

The discussion from the session will continue online, using a wiki to write a book to be published in open access.