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Indigenous knowledge must be nurtured

The Polytechnic of Namibia this week hosted a three day Indigenous Knowledge Technology Conference under the theme “Embracing indigenous knowledge system into a new technology design paradigm”.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Dr Gert Günzel, vice rector of administration and finance at Polytechnic, said exploring the potential of indigenous knowledge for innovation in African health, agriculture and climate change among other issues, is important.
“The Akan people of Ghana and Ivory Coast believe that there must be progression with the passing of time, but as the forward march proceeds the gems must be picked from behind and be preserved for future generations. I would like to stress the important role technology can play in retrieving the gems from the past. We should embrace the knowledge of our ancestors and ensure that we protect, preserve and share our heritage,” he said.
According to Dr Günzel, for indigenous knowledge to survive on its own terms, the social and economic context in which it develops and survives has to be nurtured and protected as it is imperative to recognise and respect the rights of holders and practitioners as living libraries of indigenous knowledge.
“Therefore, it is obligatory that governments give priority to the development of an Indigenous Knowledge Systems Policy and Legislation, which should protect, develop and promote indigenous knowledge systems and thus help improve the livelihood and economic well-being of the holders of indigenous knowledge and the local communities, by ensuring equitable and fair benefit sharing,” Dr Günzel said.
Also speaking at the event on behalf of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Abraham Iyambo, the Minister of Education said, the most treasured benefit of the high level of diversity is an impressive legacy of Namibian indigenous knowledge.
“It is a priceless accumulation of skills, crafts, strategies and techniques by which our multifarious ancestors survived the odds. It is a tragedy, that so much knowledge that has been part of the African way of life for centuries was further developed without acknowledging the original source,” Iyambo said.

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