Visiting students and participants at the UKZN Colloquium on Indigenous Knowledge Systems.

US Students Visit UKZN for Colloquium on Indigenous Knowledge Systems

UKZN was recently home to students from the United States of America who were attending a colloquium on the role of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in Transformative Sustainable Development.

The colloquium was hosted on the Westville campus by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) – National Research Foundation (NRF) Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CIKS)

The students were from academic streams including biomedicine, information and communication technology, art, international law, engineering and education.

The IKS lecture series was managed by Associate Professor Liza Weinstein, Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Northeastern University in Boston, USA.

CIKS Director, Professor Hassan Kaya, briefed students on social engineering in South Africa during apartheid, while exploring South Africa’s turbulent history including the Group Areas Act. Within the context of the post-apartheid era, Kaya highlighted the CIKS Triple Heritage initiative which seeks to promote social cohesion and human understanding in culturally diverse KwaZulu-Natal. The project is a joint collaboration with the eThekwini Municipality.

Kaya also spoke onThe Integration of Indigenous Knowledge Systems into the Urban Organic Farming Value Chain for Sustainable Livelihood in the eThekwini Municipality. He said there is growing recognition in South Africa that ‘agriculture still holds the key in maintaining food security, nutrition and the alleviation of poverty’. He said the Value Proposition of Urban Organic Farming was that it‘provides income generation for an urban population with low skills and little capital, especially the unemployed youth and women as well as for people with little mobility including women with children and the elderly’.

‘The integration of IKS in the urban organic farming value chain promotes an integrated approach to farming in an urban environment. This involves mixed cropping, animal husbandry, aquaculture, urban beekeeping and horticulture for subsistence, income generation and job creation. The planting of trees, orchards and grasses mitigate against disaster risk areas such as steep slopes, flood plains and wet lands,’ he said.

UKZN’s Ms Sinqobile Mabuza gave the international students a snapshot of the CIKS Special Online Collection which provides IKS reference materials to support research, teaching, learning and community engagement to the global research community.

CIKS Research Manager, Dr Mayashree Chinsamy, outlined IKS Research Exchange Programmes and invited the students to apply to be involved in programmes of interest to them.

Students provided feedback on their conceptualisation of IKS based on the lecture and highlighted the key messages including the complementarity of knowledge systems, economic implications of marginalisation of indigenous ways of knowing and value systems in policy and governance as well as the holistic and multi-transdisciplinary nature of IKS.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Albert Hirasen