Originally published on the School of Information Technology blog (Polytechnic of Namibia)
by Linus Kamati on 20 September, 2011.
Local and traditional knowledge is shared orally within rural communities; such as through telling of stories. It is not recorded in text or electronically, it is accessible only through participation within the communities. With the absence of our community elders, where are we to get that knowledge?
With the fear of losing this indigenous knowledge still on the increase, Academics from the Polytechnic of Namibia, headed by the School of Information Technology (SIT) Dean; recently returned from a successful village trip in the Omaheke region where they conducted research to enlighten their initiative of designing an indigenous knowledge (IK) management system.
Dr. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Gereon Koch-Kapuire, Kasper Rodil, Dr. Kasper Jensen, Richard T. Kamukuenjandje and Honours Student Atkinson Sapala went on the trip.
“The system will serve as the ‘Elder Community Member’, storing the available and known indigenous knowledge for usage years to come” said Mr. Gereon Koch-Kapuire, Deputy HoD (Software Engineering).
Their research (Still ongoing) focuses on preserving the IK structure and communication patterns. “These Patterns represents a major challenge as they largely differ from the current representation of digital Knowledge and retrieval mechanisms” said Dr Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Dean (SIT).
According to Dr. Winschiers-Theophilus, they are looking at developing an indigenous knowledge management storage system for selected communities in Namibia as a proof of concept to be transferred to other communities later. The ongoing urbanization of southern African countries, with an estimated annual increase of 3.5% in Namibia according to the world fact book, has disturbed the chain and processes of knowledge transfer leaving a genuine risk of total loss of this traditional knowledge.