Sadly, it’s not yet uhuru for empowering African knowledge

Something is still missing in how we use and understand indigenous knowledge systems

20 September 2021 - 19:44 By Nombulelo Shange

Last year I wrote an opinion piece on the importance of indigenous knowledge, especially in healing practices. It detailed the origins of modern vaccines as an old, culturally appropriated African practice that was instrumental in fighting smallpox in 1700s Europe. That piece is perhaps even more significant this year, as many Africans are afraid of the Covid-19 vaccine. The hesitancy comes from a distrust of Western medicine, which has been responsible for many atrocities all over the world, as well as the SA biological warfare created by the apartheid government and led by Wouter Basson, who was dubbed “Dr Death”. 

African knowledge systems have come a long way — from being overlooked as valuable sciences or misrepresented by Western scholars, who for a long time saw themselves as the only suitable custodians of our experiences, ideals, history, culture and knowledge. Today, though a lot more needs to be done, we are seeing a rise in African intellectuals, practices and solutions. In the academy, we see this in the calls for decolonised education, which has emphasised the importance of Southern African scholarly contributions locally and internationally...

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