Turbulences in Repackaging Traditional Knowledge in an Era of Sovereignty: Case of Uganda and Zimbabwe

Turbulences in Repackaging Traditional Knowledge in an Era of Sovereignty: Case of Uganda and Zimbabwe

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7024-4.ch011
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Traditional or Indigenous systems have always been the bedrock of Africans' socioeconomic and political livelihoods before the dawn of colonialism in developing countries like Uganda and Zimbabwe. Indigenous practices are important to people's daily lives. This chapter looks to strengthen classical African systems and methods for decoloniality. The study explored traditional knowledge with a focus on its meanings and critical features, reviewed the laws protecting traditional knowledge in Uganda and Zimbabwe, and how libraries can contribute to preserving such classical knowledge in Zimbabwe and Uganda. It explored the factors that affect the preservation of traditional and proposed strategies to enhance conventional conservation by libraries in Zimbabwe and Uganda. An Afrocentric paradigm underpins the chapter, and data were collected from the literature review and the researchers' personal experiences as members of indigenous communities.
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Introduction And Background

Traditional or Indigenous knowledge systems have always been the bedrock of Africans' socioeconomic and political livelihoods before the dawn of colonialism. Traditional knowledge is the primary element millions depend on in developing countries (Carrea, 2001). Indigenous knowledge and practices are verbally transmitted to succeeding generations and firmly and broadly anchored in the intergenerational experience of the environment (Kamau & Winter, 2009). Different nomenclatures are under several names in indigenous systems, including indigenous and traditional knowledge of the environment, traditional ecological knowledge, and Native Science (Bucket, 2013). The protection of indigenous cultural heritage can be realised by empowering them to reclaim their sovereign space among other social groups. As stated by Latulippe and Klenk (2020), a two-pronged solid conceptual framework for indigenous sovereignty is concerned with enhancing indigenous systems, ensuring their transfer within indigenous governance structures, and reducing external obstacles to indigenous expression on the land. The United Nations (2008) states that worldwide, indigenous peoples have the right to their natural resources and grounds, to consciousness, and to make accessible, prior, and informed decisions in all indigenous territories and to practice their legal systems, political systems, and intellectual traditions (Pillay, 2013). Additionally, sovereignty is not contingent on other people's acceptance of indigenous systems, the generous funding of short-term programs, or the encouragement of equity among various communities. It is a right derived from indigenous sovereignty, title, and ownership (Latulippe & Klenk, 2020). Indigenous sovereignty is the basis of sovereignty in indigenous peoples and their culture. The notion of indigenous sovereignty rests on the idea that the indigenous people are of sovereign descent, as their Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) covers the challenges and day-to-day activities that they face when fighting for survival (Birch, 2007). The concept of sovereignty is distinctly stated in the United Nations’ (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2008), in which the sovereign rights of such groups to self-determination are explicitly stated by Article 31,1. Indigenous peoples have the right to protect, administer, and enhance their knowledge, cultural practices, and scientific, technological, and cultural manifestations, including seeds, medicines, and human and genetic resources. Flora and wildlife traits, oral traditions, literary genres, designs, sports, traditional games, and the visual and performing arts are essential to Africa's epistemic revolution. Additionally, they are entitled to maintain, control, safeguard, and further their Intellectual Property (IP) rights concerning cultural heritage, knowledge, and conventional cultural representations. There are numerous cases whereby indigenous groups have lost their sovereignty over their natural resources due to biopiracy as will be highlighted in the subsequent paragraphs.

Fredriksson (2022) analyzed Curcuma Longa's case and a plant patented by the University of Mississippi through the United States Patent and Trademark Office and then revoked. The patent mentioned above was withdrawn due to pressure from India on the grounds of uniqueness, which marked great success in countering biopiracy by a third-world country. Fredriksson (2022) reported that the Indian government's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research challenged the patent for its use of traditional Indian practices. Hasfera (2017) conducted a study investigating the reprocessing and preservation of Minangkabau folklore from Indonesia's West Sumatra province. The growing disinterest of young people triggered the investigation into reading indigenous folklore, which posed a challenge for librarians. The Nagari Library began a mission to repackage Minangkabau folklore and upload the content to the institutional repository. The oral legend was converted into multimedia and shared with the community (Hasfera, 2017). Similarly, Sithole (2007) explains that documentation of indigenous knowledge is a necessary and legitimate method to validate it and ensure its defence against biopiracy and other abuse. The court dispute over the patenting of the hoodia plant used for medicinal purposes demonstrated the need for paperwork. Sources of the plant were the Kalahari people, who generously disseminated it worldwide; however, it was patented without informing and compensating the original owners (Yunnus, 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Repackaging Indigenous Knowledge Refers: The process of repackaging IK to become more understandable, readable, acceptable, and usable, including its adaptation to the needs and characteristics of the individual or user group and matching it with the information provided, thereby facilitating the diffusion of knowledge.

Knowledge: The familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone, something, or phenomena, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, derived from experience or education.

Indigenous Knowledge: This refers to a corpus of dissimilar knowledge and practices of societies accumulated through a serial interface with their natural milieu.

Afrocentricity: Aa conceptual framework that argues that African culture and assumptions of human behaviour are pivotal to any scrutiny involving the study of African experiences.

Traditional Knowledge: This constitutes a community's knowledge, know-how, skills, and traditions created, maintained, and passed down from generation to generation.

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