The Significance of Multicultural Methodologies on African  Indigenous Knowledge Research

The Significance of Multicultural Methodologies on African Indigenous Knowledge Research

Stewart Lee Kugara (University of Venda, South Africa), Tsetselelani Decide Mdhluli (University of Limpopo, South Africa), Thizwilondi Joanbeth Daswa (University of Venda, South Africa), Pfarelo Eva Matshidze (University of Venda, South Africa) and Ndidzulafhi Esther Ramavhunga (University of Venda, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1249-4.ch004
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Abstract

Throughout history, African indigenous knowledge has been researched using Western-centred methodologies. From the onset, there was a great deal of resistance from indigenous peoples as most of these researchers used ethical considerations that are foreign to local communities. The African indigenous holders emphasise some cultural concepts that are sacrosanct and indispensable to them. This chapter, therefore, seeks to ferrate the significance of Western-centred methodologies vis-à-vis African-centred (Africa-centred, Afrocentric, Africentric, Afrocentricity, and African-worldview) methodologies in the collection of data among African indigenous communities. The concept of sharing (hybrid methodology) provides a platform of reflection especially on protocol and research tools.
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Introduction

For some time, African indigenous knowledge has been researched using Western-centred methodologies. From the onset, there was a great deal of resistance from indigenous peoples as most of these researchers used ethical considerations that are foreign to local communities. The African indigenous holders emphasise some cultural concepts that are sacrosanct and indispensable to them. Resultantly, if such are not adhered to, this result and/or has resulted in numerous African indigenous peoples not disclosing the information or giving half-truths thus, the researchers producing findings that are a mismatch from reality. This is so as the ethical strategies and methodologies adopted are processed from a purely Western perspective, without respecting the community of origin. This proposed book chapter, therefore, seek to ferrate the significance of Western-centred methodologies vis-à-vis African-centred (and its variations as Africa-centred, Afrocentric, Africentric, Afrocentricity, Africentricity, and African-worldview) methodologies in the collection of data among African indigenous communities.

It is trite that researchers should do a critical analysis of African indigenous peoples’ life, history and culture from the perspective of African indigenous people. In that regard, ‘some forms of behaviour, actions and conduct are approved while others are widely disapproved of’ (Idang 2009, p. 142). In evaluating African culture and qualities, the book chapter is not pontificating that every African culture have the equivalent explanation(s) for occasions, a similar language, and same method of dressing, etcetera. Relatively, there are fundamental likenesses and ethics shared by numerous African indigenous communities which if not adhered to introduce a mismatch and bring an aspect of undermining. If such cultural practices are disregarded, African indigenous communities take on responsibilities and distort or frustrate what the researcher seek.

On that backdrop, using Western-centred ethics on African indigenous knowledge research is not only dehumanising but portray them as ‘pawns’. As such, the book chapter intends to bring this novelty, correct the wrong and introduce an adaptive system which upholds the values that play a central role in African indigenous communities. The book chapter concluded that it is important that the framework or methodology that is employed to research African phenomenon is grounded in the African Indigenous knowledge systems paradigm, because the community of research should be respected. Worth-noting, these two systems, Euro-Western centric and African methodologies can co-exist thus need to be respectfully compared and contrasted without restraint.

The concept of sharing (hybrid methodology) provides a platform of reflection especially on protocol and research tools. The adoption of Euro-Western methodologies with the exclusion of Afro-centred methodologies in sharing platforms is alleged to be toxic. It is toxic because it has a tendency of persistently altering the identities that are known and misses the whole essence of the research purpose. As a basic principle, researchers (especially ‘outsiders’) who come to African indigenous communities should be vigilant on how to design projects so as to safeguard the dignity and equity of their participants. If this is not taken seriously, it has potential of unveiling hard questions about how a researcher’s positionality has causal effects. Thus, guidelines of important ethics to note in African protocols and values were ferreted. The chapter critically assess who are African indigenous peoples, their indigenous knowledge, appraise Euro-Western methodologies and African ethics and protocols.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Decolonisation: Refers to a decolonisation process that indigenous populace embarked upon after attaining political independence with a view to transform structures and policies that colonised state used to subjugate indigenous people. In other words, decolonisation is however, not limited to political independence but rather it also extends to the way the previously colonised group was structured to think.

Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS): This term is used to explain the knowledge systems that are developed by a community as opposed to the scientific knowledge that is generally referred to as ‘modern’ knowledge.

African Indigenous Methodology: Methodology is the manner selected to obtain information for a study and describe the approach to the work. Thus, African indigenous knowledge is the African way of indigenous communities of obtaining information for study.

Western Knowledge Systems (WKS): The WSKs is a term which comprises of the social norms, ethical values, traditional customs (such as beliefs) and specific artefacts and technologies as shared within the Western sphere of influence. In other words, WKSs refer to the content and context of knowledge systems driven by the values and cultures of Western civilisations.

Indigenous: Occurring or living naturally in a specific area, such as native plants or animals (opposite to exotic); to be differentiated from 'endogenous', which means having its origin within a specific area (opposite of exogenous).

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