Ongoing Student Projects

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Community Collaboration Framework for Co-Design of Technology and Services

Posted in Ongoing Student Projects

By Gereon Koch Kapuire ( PhD Candidate )

Principal Supervisor : Prof. Margot Brereton, Queensland University of Technology
Associate Supervisor : Dr. Alessandro Soro, Queensland University of Technology
External supervisor : Prof. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Science and Technology

We have been co-designing technology with indigenous people for over 7 years, where, sessions were initiated by local and external researchers. Many researchers lack the skills and knowledge to be able to build, develop and maintain the relationship with indigenous communities. Equally the community has not developed strong mechanisms of expressing their own set of rules of appropriate interactions. Thus, my objective is to develop a framework for co-design of technology and services to support alien researchers and indigenous communities’ engagement. A Community-Based Co-Design (CBCD) approach is used which takes place within a communal value system and opens up a new debate around the principles of participation and its benefits within HCI4D and ICTD projects. Therefore, our relationship as researchers with any community has to strive for reciprocity, as the notion of reciprocity can lead to sustainable designs, valid research, and profound innovation.

Using Crowdsourcing to preserve Indigenous Knowledge for Rural Communities in Namibia

Posted in Ongoing Student Projects

By Colin Stanley ( PhD Candidate )

Principal Supervisor : Prof. Edwin Blake, University of Cape Town
External supervisor : Prof. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Science and Technology


This research is investigating how rural communities in Namibia could crowdsource graphic designs as part of preserving their Indigenous Knowledge (IK). IK is knowledge mastered by local communities through their cultural practices and survival tactics. IK is usually orally communicated by elders in rural communities in Namibia as compared to scientific knowledge published in research papers. Since IK has not been recorded in any persistent format those that are well equipped with IK when they pass on, they leave with the wealth of IK thus, IK is disappearing. It is based on this background that prompts the importance of preserving IK. As an initial effort to preserve IK, a 3D tablet application HomeSteadCreator (HSC) was developed for the ovaHerero rural communities from Erindi-roukambe, Omaheke region, Namibia (Rodil et al, 2012).

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User-Created Personas: A Four Case-Study of Persona as the Research Foci in Urban and Indigenous Namibia

Posted in Ongoing Student Projects

By Daniel G. Cabrero ( PhD Candidate )

Principal Supervisor : Prof. José Abdelnour-Nocera, University of West London
Associate Supervisor : Prof. Stephen Roberts, University of West London
External supervisor : Prof. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Science and Technology

Persona is an artefact widely utilised in technology design to support the communicational process between designers, users and other stakeholders involved in the process. Persona originated in the Global North while thus-far it has been partially deployed in the Global South, often under it’s the philosophy of User-Centred Design. This thesis postulates that persona representations are expected to differ across cultures. This is demonstrated through an exploratory-case study on personas co-created with laypeople, User-Created Personas, with four Namibian ethnic groups, namely ovaHerero, Ovambo, ovaHimba and Khoisan. The thesis applies a hermeneutic inquiry approach so as to discern cultural nuances from diverse human conducts. 

The findings presented reveal diverse self-representations whereby results for each ethnic group emerge in different ways, perspectives, recounts and storylines. Ultimately this thesis argues User-Created Personas are a potentially valid approach to pursue cross-cultural conceptualisations of personas that communicate cultural features and user experiences vital to designing useful, acceptable and gratifying technologies in cross-cultural milieus."

Conceptualisation and development of an institutional database as a node for seamless integration with the Namibian National Indigenous Knowledge Management System.

Posted in Ongoing Student Projects

By Michael Bosomefi Chamunorwa ( Masters )

Principal Supervisor : Professor Heike Winschiers-Theophilus
External supervisor : Dr Tariq Zaman


Indigenous and traditional knowledge preservation and sharing using Information and Communication Technologies is advancing at moderate rates. This is in part due to the formats that indigenous and traditional knowledge are usually found in. When viewed from the Namibian and African context, most indigenous knowledge was usually passed down across generations by word of mouth thereby resulting in the absence of reliable literature or digital media depicting this indigenous knowledge. In Namibia, sharing indigenous knowledge in this manner is no longer common due to modernisation and increased rural to urban migration. This has opened new research opportunities that aim to use modern technology to collect and catalogue indigenous knowledge to protect it while also making it available to those who have moved from the rural areas to the cities. 

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Co-designing Cultural technologies to support the well-being of urban San Youth.

Posted in Ongoing Student Projects

By Maria Kauhondamwa ( Masters )

Principal Supervisor : Professor Dr Heike Winschiers-Theophilus



The Khoisan speaking community is the smallest community in Namibia with 1.3 % of the total population.  Khoisan speaking people are considered to be marginalised. A major problem that Khoisan speakers have to contend with is the popular stereotypes associated with them. The majority of the numerous labels used to refer to them (including “San” and “Bushmen”) are etymologically pejorative and evoke a whole series of negative connotations.

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Completed Student Projects

Cross-cultural co-creation of Indigenous Knowledge Management System

Posted in Completed Student Projects

By Kasper Rodil ( PhD completed 2016)

Principal Supervisor : Matthias Rehm, Aalborg University
External supervisor : Prof. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Science and Technology


Indigenous elders in Sub-Saharan Africa have for decades transferred valuable cultural and local knowledge to youths through interpersonal interactions in collectivistic rural villages. The youths are now sent to the capital to study a modern Curriculum as directed by governmental rules and regulations. Previous attempts to preserve and facilitate this knowledge transfer have proven unsuccessful in terms of Western design thinking and lack of understanding of limitations and unique opportunities embodied in a cross-cultural collaboration. The project investigates the potential of digital 3D visualization as opposed to trad. Database systems/search-by-term libraries to facilitate knowledge transfer between indigenous groups, and how it can play an intercultural role as a shared language in co-designing knowledge.

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Designing Persuasive Systems for Rural Communities in Namibia

Posted in Completed Student Projects

By Mark Mushiba ( Masters completed 2014)

Principal Supervisor : Prof. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Science and Technology



While current trends of use show that technology is increasingly being accepted into communities that were thought to be inaccessible either because of infrastructure or cultural barriers, the rate at which these technologies are being adopted is not significant enough to foster the much needed benefits. In light of the use of ICT in rural settings, one could say that technology is underutilized.This has recently become an area of concern since most of the world’s socio economic innovations are being delivered through technology. The effectiveness of some of these innovations depend on whether or not they are capable of successfully integrating themselves into rural communities in a way that their use is aligned with the behavior of the people they are meant for.

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Towards appropiate user interface design preserving rural african communication practices-listeners roles in face-to-face communication

Posted in Completed Student Projects

By Shilumbe Chivuno-Kuria ( Masters completed 2012)

Principal Supervisor : Prof. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Science and Technology



In order to design appropriate interfaces for Indigenous knowledge Management systems. The fact that in those communities, communication takes place primarily through oral transmission also has to be considered. Oral communication involves both narrators and listeners who engage in an interactive correspondence including verbal and non verbal communication during storytelling. Many researchers focus on Narrators but in this thesis, we will concentrate on listeners’ contributions during interpersonal communications in rural communities. Non verbal communication such as gestures are prevalent in traditional oral African communities and these can offer rich information that can be infused in interface designs for human computer interaction. The aim of this mini-thesis is to identify general socio-cultural norms, communication behaviour such as non-verbal communication structures (gestures) including general verbal utterances of the rural Otjiherero speaking people to provide a basis for subsequent use in the design of local Systems.

An explorative action research study toward the design of a digital knowledge organisation as part of an Indigenous Knowledge Management system with a Herero community

Posted in Completed Student Projects

By Gereon Koch Kapuire ( Masters completed 2013)

Principal Supervisor : Prof. Edwin Blake, University of Cape Town
External supervisor : Prof. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Science and Technology


Indigenous Knowledge Management Systems are being developed in order to preserve, process and retrieve knowledge. Unfortunately, most of the systems available do not take into account cultural ways of organising and sharing of indigenous knowledge by local communities. Current technology trends and developments have hardly been informed by African indigenous and rural knowledge systems. Thus, either substantial modifications are necessary in adapting technology to the requirements of indigenous knowledge systems, or those systems are inadequately represented through technologies. This work explores different options of organising video recorded indigenous knowledge in the pursuit of maintaining local communication patterns and practices.

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Toward a Framework for Digitalising Protection of Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Posted in Completed Student Projects

By Elifas Tangeni Angula ( Masters completed 2015)

Principal Supervisor : Prof. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Science and Technology



Indigenous Knowledge (IK) forms an important contribution to research and development, particularly in areas such as arts, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture and cosmetic products. In the context of these uses, Indigenous people have claims that their rights as traditional knowledge holders and custodians of this knowledge are not adequately recognized or protected. They demand not only recognition and protection of this knowledge, but also the right to share equitably in benefits derived from the uses of this knowledge. As much as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is promoted as a tool to protect Indigenous Knowledge as per international laws of IP and patenting, ICT evenly carries the risks to achieve exactly the opposite.

This project aims to explore further risks in inappropriate handling of IK through ICTs and seeks to develop a framework for digital protection of IK. Issues such as , e.g. ownership authentication, access and sharing rights of rightful owners among others will be considered in the collection, documentation and dissemination of indigenous knowledge using digital technology.