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INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS AND ETHNOMATHEMATICS Mogege Mosimege Department of Science and Technology Pretoria, South Africa

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Presentation on theme: "INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS AND ETHNOMATHEMATICS Mogege Mosimege Department of Science and Technology Pretoria, South Africa"— Presentation transcript:

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3 INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS AND ETHNOMATHEMATICS Mogege Mosimege Department of Science and Technology Pretoria, South Africa mogege.mosimege@dst.gov.za Presentation made in the Panel on ‘IKS and Ethnomathematics’ at the ICEM 3 Conference, Langham Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand, 13 February 2006

4 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENTS WITH RESPECT TO INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS (IKS) IN SOUTH AFRICA: AUDITS AND WORKSHOPS 1996: Meeting between Chairperson of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Portfolio Committee and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Executive 1996: Meeting between Chairperson of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Portfolio Committee and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Executive October 1996 – January 1997: Pilot of Indigenous technologies Audit at University of The North (now University of Limpopo – Turfloop Campus) October 1996 – January 1997: Pilot of Indigenous technologies Audit at University of The North (now University of Limpopo – Turfloop Campus) February 1997: Workshop at UNIN; Decision to conduct a national Audit February 1997: Workshop at UNIN; Decision to conduct a national Audit March 1997 – December 1998: Audit conducted by following Universities (i) University of Venda (ii) University of North West (now the Mafikeng Campus of the North West University (iii) Vista University – Mamelodi (now the Mamelodi Campus of the University of Pretoria) (iv) UNISA (v) University of the North – Qwaqwa Campus (now Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State (vi) University of Zululand (vii) University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University) (viii) University of Fort Hare March 1997 – December 1998: Audit conducted by following Universities (i) University of Venda (ii) University of North West (now the Mafikeng Campus of the North West University (iii) Vista University – Mamelodi (now the Mamelodi Campus of the University of Pretoria) (iv) UNISA (v) University of the North – Qwaqwa Campus (now Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State (vi) University of Zululand (vii) University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University) (viii) University of Fort Hare January – December 1998: Provincial Workshops conducted by each University January – December 1998: Provincial Workshops conducted by each University First National Workshop on IKS at University of North West: September 1998 (jointly organized by the Portfolio Committee, DACST, and the CSIR; Supported by other stakeholders) First National Workshop on IKS at University of North West: September 1998 (jointly organized by the Portfolio Committee, DACST, and the CSIR; Supported by other stakeholders)

5 LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE AUDIT Extent and depth of knowledge of indigenous and local people Extent and depth of knowledge of indigenous and local people Marginalization of the knowledge and exclusion of the knowledge from the mainstream Marginalization of the knowledge and exclusion of the knowledge from the mainstream Lack of recognition and acknowledgement of knowledge holders Lack of recognition and acknowledgement of knowledge holders Lack of protection of the knowledge, leading to exploitation and biopiracy Lack of protection of the knowledge, leading to exploitation and biopiracy Misconceptions related to the knowledge Misconceptions related to the knowledge Role of researchers and research methodologies cannot remain the same as in other areas of research Role of researchers and research methodologies cannot remain the same as in other areas of research Commitment by government, Science Councils, Universities, Traditional Leaders, Indigenous Knowledge Holders and other stakeholders Commitment by government, Science Councils, Universities, Traditional Leaders, Indigenous Knowledge Holders and other stakeholders International role players, especially the role of pharmaceuticals in collaboration with national role players International role players, especially the role of pharmaceuticals in collaboration with national role players

6 IKS IN DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (DST) Establishment of Ministerial task team to Draft Legislation and Policy on IKS in 1999: Team headed by Prof Catherine Odora-Hoppers (based at the HSRC) Establishment of Ministerial task team to Draft Legislation and Policy on IKS in 1999: Team headed by Prof Catherine Odora-Hoppers (based at the HSRC) Delegations by Task Team to India and China in 1999 – 2000 to learn about IKS in the two countries Delegations by Task Team to India and China in 1999 – 2000 to learn about IKS in the two countries Provision of ring-fenced funding to the NRF for research in IKS since 2000 Provision of ring-fenced funding to the NRF for research in IKS since 2000 Establishment of Unit dedicated to IKS in the Science and Technology Branch of the Department of Arts, Culture Science and Technology in 2001 Establishment of Unit dedicated to IKS in the Science and Technology Branch of the Department of Arts, Culture Science and Technology in 2001

7 IKS IN SOUTH AFRICA: THE NATIONAL RESEARCH FOUNDATION (NRF) Defines IKS as a complex set of knowledge and technologies existing and developed around specific conditions of populations and communities indigenous to a particular geographic area (NRF, 2000) Defines IKS as a complex set of knowledge and technologies existing and developed around specific conditions of populations and communities indigenous to a particular geographic area (NRF, 2000) Has established an IKS Research Focus in addition to the 8 Focus Areas on: Distinct South African Research Opportunities; Economic Growth and International Competitiveness; Conservation and Management of Ecosystems and Biodiversity; Education and the Challenges for Change (Science, Mathematics and Technology Education is funded here); Globalization Challenges; ICT; Sustainable Livelihoods; Unlocking the Future Has established an IKS Research Focus in addition to the 8 Focus Areas on: Distinct South African Research Opportunities; Economic Growth and International Competitiveness; Conservation and Management of Ecosystems and Biodiversity; Education and the Challenges for Change (Science, Mathematics and Technology Education is funded here); Globalization Challenges; ICT; Sustainable Livelihoods; Unlocking the Future

8 NRF: IKS FOCUS AREA Administers a ring-fenced amount of R10m per annum which has been provided by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) since 2000 Administers a ring-fenced amount of R10m per annum which has been provided by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) since 2000 At least 400 Research Grants have been awarded thus far At least 400 Research Grants have been awarded thus far There are 4 Research Themes – Ethnomathematics is funded in one of the 4 Areas: There are 4 Research Themes – Ethnomathematics is funded in one of the 4 Areas: 1. The production, transmission and utilization of indigenous knowledge (IK) and technology 2. The role of IK in nation building (Traditional Medicine & Health; Indigenous Food Systems; Socio Cultural Systems – Indigenous Languages, Indigenous notions of Science and Technology; Arts, Crafts and Materials) 3. IK at the interface with other knowledge systems 4. Introducing IKS into the mainstream of education

9 INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS: SOME DEFINITIONS Indigenous knowledge is the local knowledge – knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. IK contrasts with the international knowledge system generated by universities, research institutions and private firms. It is the basis for local-level decision making in agriculture, health care, food preparation, education, natural-resource management, and a host of other activities in rural communities. (Warren, 1991) Indigenous knowledge is the local knowledge – knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. IK contrasts with the international knowledge system generated by universities, research institutions and private firms. It is the basis for local-level decision making in agriculture, health care, food preparation, education, natural-resource management, and a host of other activities in rural communities. (Warren, 1991) Indigenous knowledge is used synonymously with ‘traditional’ and ‘local’ knowledge to differentiate the knowledge developed by a community from the international knowledge systems sometimes called ‘’Western’ system, generated through universities, government research centres and private industry. IK refers to the knowledge of indigenous peoples as well as any other defined community. (Warren, 1992) Indigenous knowledge is used synonymously with ‘traditional’ and ‘local’ knowledge to differentiate the knowledge developed by a community from the international knowledge systems sometimes called ‘’Western’ system, generated through universities, government research centres and private industry. IK refers to the knowledge of indigenous peoples as well as any other defined community. (Warren, 1992) The unique, traditional, local knowledge existing within and developed around specific conditions of women and men indigenous to a particular geographic area. (Louise Grenier, Working with Indigenous Knowledge. A Guide for Researchers, International Development Research Centre, 1998) The unique, traditional, local knowledge existing within and developed around specific conditions of women and men indigenous to a particular geographic area. (Louise Grenier, Working with Indigenous Knowledge. A Guide for Researchers, International Development Research Centre, 1998)

10 INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE: SOME MORE DEFINITIONS An all inclusive knowledge that covers technologies and practices that have been and are still used by indigenous and local people for existence, survival and adaptation in a variety of environments. Such knowledge is not static but evolves and changes as it develops, influences and is influenced by both internal and external circumstances and interaction with other knowledge systems. Such knowledge covers contents and contexts such as agriculture, architecture, engineering, mathematics, governance and other social systems and activities, medicinal and indigenous plant varieties, etc. (Onwu & Mosimege, Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Science and Technology Education: A Dialogue, African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, V 8, No. 1, 2004) An all inclusive knowledge that covers technologies and practices that have been and are still used by indigenous and local people for existence, survival and adaptation in a variety of environments. Such knowledge is not static but evolves and changes as it develops, influences and is influenced by both internal and external circumstances and interaction with other knowledge systems. Such knowledge covers contents and contexts such as agriculture, architecture, engineering, mathematics, governance and other social systems and activities, medicinal and indigenous plant varieties, etc. (Onwu & Mosimege, Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Science and Technology Education: A Dialogue, African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, V 8, No. 1, 2004)

11 IKS POLICY Key Policy Drivers – 4 Key Policy Drivers – 4 IKS and the National Systems of Education and Innovation IKS and the National Systems of Education and Innovation Stakeholders and Role Players in IKS Stakeholders and Role Players in IKS Institutional Framework Institutional Framework IKS Funding and Principles IKS Funding and Principles National and International Imperatives National and International Imperatives Role of various Government Departments and the Intergovernmental Committee on IKS Role of various Government Departments and the Intergovernmental Committee on IKS

12 KEY POLICY DRIVERS IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN CONTEXT Affirmation of African cultural values in the face of globalisation Affirmation of African cultural values in the face of globalisation Development of the services provided by Indigenous Knowledge Holders and Practitioners Development of the services provided by Indigenous Knowledge Holders and Practitioners Contribution of indigenous knowledge to the economy Contribution of indigenous knowledge to the economy Interfacing with other knowledge systems Interfacing with other knowledge systems

13 SOME MAJOR THEMES IN ETHNOMATHEMATICAL RESEARCH: ANALYSIS FROM STUDIES IN SOUTH AFRICA Mural Decorations (dominant in the Mpumalanga Province) Mural Decorations (dominant in the Mpumalanga Province) Indigenous Games Indigenous Games Beadwork Beadwork Weaving (baskets, mats, knots, pyramids, hexagons, etc) Weaving (baskets, mats, knots, pyramids, hexagons, etc) Traditional House Building Traditional House Building Cultural Villages Cultural Villages Historical Development of Mathematical Concepts e.g. Counting Historical Development of Mathematical Concepts e.g. Counting Linguistics and Mathematics – Indigenous Languages and Mathematics Education Linguistics and Mathematics – Indigenous Languages and Mathematics Education Cultural Artifacts Cultural Artifacts Interface between culture and mathematics – broadly Interface between culture and mathematics – broadly Daily activities in the context of the mathematics classroom Daily activities in the context of the mathematics classroom

14 SOUTH AFRICAN SPORTS COMMISSION AND INDIGENOUS GAMES South African Sports Commission (SASC) took the initiative to revive indigenous games through the Indigenous Games Project South African Sports Commission (SASC) took the initiative to revive indigenous games through the Indigenous Games Project Formation of a National Structure which involves all the 9 Provinces Formation of a National Structure which involves all the 9 Provinces SASC collected 23 indigenous games from the different regions of South Africa SASC collected 23 indigenous games from the different regions of South Africa Published a Booklet on South African Indigenous Games in 2001 containing 7 of the 23 games Published a Booklet on South African Indigenous Games in 2001 containing 7 of the 23 games Previous Minister of Sports Ngconde Balfour launched the Indigenous Games at Basotho Cultural Village in the Eastern Part of the Free State on 24 February 2001 Previous Minister of Sports Ngconde Balfour launched the Indigenous Games at Basotho Cultural Village in the Eastern Part of the Free State on 24 February 2001

15 SEVEN GAMES LAUNCHED AT BASOTHO CULTURAL VILLAGE 1. Dibeke: A running ball game 2. Kho-Kho: A running game 3. Ntimo/Kgati: A rope-jumping game 4. Diketo: A coordination game 5. Jukskei: A target game 6. Ncuva/Morula: A board game 7. Morabaraba: A board game

16 MORABARABA GAME: HISTORY AND BACKGROUND South African War Games Union (with Headquarters in Johannesburg) has been organizing competitions on the game over a number of years – at least 10 years South African War Games Union (with Headquarters in Johannesburg) has been organizing competitions on the game over a number of years – at least 10 years Have written some historical background on the game Have written some historical background on the game Doubts about origin of the game, reference is usually made to an Egyptian origin Doubts about origin of the game, reference is usually made to an Egyptian origin Research by Mosimege (2000) indicated that the elderly Tswana men learnt the game during the days when they looked after cattle (herdboys): Interviewed a number elderly men in their 70s Research by Mosimege (2000) indicated that the elderly Tswana men learnt the game during the days when they looked after cattle (herdboys): Interviewed a number elderly men in their 70s This research disputed strongly some of the rules as written by the South African War Games Union. For instance the rules relating to the end of the game – not 2 but 3 cows. This research disputed strongly some of the rules as written by the South African War Games Union. For instance the rules relating to the end of the game – not 2 but 3 cows.

17 SOME PERSPECTIVES ON MORABARABA FROM INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE HOLDERS (ELDERS) It is neither a boys nor a girls game, both can play the game It is neither a boys nor a girls game, both can play the game Morabaraba, even though used the most, is actually a South Sotho name, the name in Setswana is Mmela Morabaraba, even though used the most, is actually a South Sotho name, the name in Setswana is Mmela Historically, the game was drawn on a flat stone, at times on the ground Historically, the game was drawn on a flat stone, at times on the ground Measurement and Straightness of lines done through the bark of a shrub called ‘bokwetse’ Measurement and Straightness of lines done through the bark of a shrub called ‘bokwetse’ Estimation and Comparison of lengths of lines done using the Middle finger and Thumb Estimation and Comparison of lengths of lines done using the Middle finger and Thumb Rules of the game: A cow does not move on 3 legs, so the game does not end when 2 tokens are left but rather when 3 are left Rules of the game: A cow does not move on 3 legs, so the game does not end when 2 tokens are left but rather when 3 are left

18 MORABARABA ON A STONE AT BASOTHO CULTURAL VILLAGE - QWAQWA

19 TEACHER AND LEARNERS PLAYING MORABARABA GAME

20 LEARNERS DISCUSSING MORABARABA GAME

21 MORUBA: HISTORY AND BACKGROUND Mancala (Mankala) type games found in many parts of the world (Broline and Loeb, 1996). Mancala (Mankala) type games found in many parts of the world (Broline and Loeb, 1996). Mancala a generic name given by anthropologists to refer to a class of various board games (Ismael,1997; Odeleye, 1997) Mancala a generic name given by anthropologists to refer to a class of various board games (Ismael,1997; Odeleye, 1997) Various names used in different African countries: Various names used in different African countries: - Moruba: Limpopo (mostly the North Sotho speaking parts) Province of South Africa - N’tchuva, Mpela, Thadji: Mozambique - Oware: Ghana - Ayo: Nigeria - Soro: Tanzania - Omweso: Uganda

22 SOME PERSPECTIVES ON MORUBA FROM INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE HOLDERS It is predominantly a men’s game used during war, as a result no women played the game as they were not allowed to go to war; men played it the most when they went to the mines in the Gauteng Province; However in recent days both boys and girls play the game It is predominantly a men’s game used during war, as a result no women played the game as they were not allowed to go to war; men played it the most when they went to the mines in the Gauteng Province; However in recent days both boys and girls play the game Moruba a social activity where men strategised about a variety of activities and events relating to men, also shared advise and ideas Moruba a social activity where men strategised about a variety of activities and events relating to men, also shared advise and ideas Language, Expressions and Terminology used during the game even signify what happens when war takes place Language, Expressions and Terminology used during the game even signify what happens when war takes place Two-Row Version (called Semmeh in Limpopo Province) very basic in the South of Africa although dominant in the North of Africa, Four-Row Version the most dominant version in the South of Africa Two-Row Version (called Semmeh in Limpopo Province) very basic in the South of Africa although dominant in the North of Africa, Four-Row Version the most dominant version in the South of Africa Players have to be extremely capable of quick calculations to know how many takes are available at which stage of the game Players have to be extremely capable of quick calculations to know how many takes are available at which stage of the game

23 PLAYERS PLAYING MORUBA (FOUR-ROW VERSION)IN MANKWENG TOWNSHIP, LIMPOPO PROVINCE

24 STRING FIGURE GAMES (MALEPA): HISTORY AND BACKGROUND The historical record of string figures in Africa dates back to almost 100 years The historical record of string figures in Africa dates back to almost 100 years Most of this work is found in Alfred Haddon’s work of 1906. This work refers to the pastime by Negro tribes, and most of these coming from Africa Most of this work is found in Alfred Haddon’s work of 1906. This work refers to the pastime by Negro tribes, and most of these coming from Africa In the research by Mosimege, reference is made by the elderly that they used to play Malepa around the evening fires when they were young. This would at least be about 100 years ago. In the research by Mosimege, reference is made by the elderly that they used to play Malepa around the evening fires when they were young. This would at least be about 100 years ago. Most of the participants at the workshops I have attended indicate how they used to play these when they were young Most of the participants at the workshops I have attended indicate how they used to play these when they were young

25 SOME PERSPECTIVES ON MALEPA FROM INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE HOLDERS Name and meaning of game: Even though it is generally known as “Diheke” because of the gates that appear on the string, the appropriate name is “Malepa” signifying the complexity of the manipulation the String as the Gates increase Name and meaning of game: Even though it is generally known as “Diheke” because of the gates that appear on the string, the appropriate name is “Malepa” signifying the complexity of the manipulation the String as the Gates increase Making of String from animal skin: Even though all kinds of strings are used today, the elderly used to make string from the skin of animals which they would kill as they were herding the cattle, or even from cattle and sheep skin Making of String from animal skin: Even though all kinds of strings are used today, the elderly used to make string from the skin of animals which they would kill as they were herding the cattle, or even from cattle and sheep skin Games played around the fire in the evenings during story telling time by the Grandfathers and Grandmothers Games played around the fire in the evenings during story telling time by the Grandfathers and Grandmothers

26 LEARNER GIVING A DEMONSTRATION OF STRING FIGURE GATE 2

27 LEARNER GIVING A DEMONSTRATION OF STRING FIGURE GATE 6

28 SOME OF THE RESULTS OF THE STUDIES ON INDIGENOUS GAMES (i) Mathematical knowledge from the analysis of indigenous games (ii) Performance in specific mathematical concepts e.g. probability – Moruba (iii) Socio-cultural interactions in the mathematics classroom during the play of games (iv) Acknowledgement and empowerment of learners through the use of indigenous games (v) Relations between indigenous games and mathematics classroom activities (vi) Knowledge of games by the elders and elderly and knowledge holders and the implications for mathematics education (vii) History and Transportation of indigenous games and the impact of globalization (viii) Written records and verification processes of indigenous games (ix) Similarities and Differences in indigenous games across different countries (x) Research Methodologies and Analytical Frameworks that may be used in the studies on Indigenous Games

29 ROLE OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE HOLDERS (ELDERS) IN ETHNOMATHEMATICAL STUDIES Their wealth of knowledge may be used to verify and correct the records that already exist, which at times may be incorrect Their wealth of knowledge may be used to verify and correct the records that already exist, which at times may be incorrect They must not only serve as our source of knowledge and research material, but should as many times as possible and as far as possible, allow their voices to be heard They must not only serve as our source of knowledge and research material, but should as many times as possible and as far as possible, allow their voices to be heard They must be acknowledged correctly and appropriately (Contribution to making their knowledge eradicate their poverty) They must be acknowledged correctly and appropriately (Contribution to making their knowledge eradicate their poverty)


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