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 )

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. 

The use of modern technology brings its own challenges because most of this technology relies on certain structured technical systems for data modelling and capturing while indigenous and traditional knowledge is based on different ontologies and epistemologies. Issues such as database user access rights, authentication and authorisation become difficult to implement for indigenous knowledge management systems due to the different nature of indigenous knowledge transfer. In addition to this, some of the policies that govern how information and communication technologies are used in indigenous knowledge preservation and sharing may directly contradict with how the knowledge custodians expect to preserve and share their knowledge.

The purpose of this study is to map user access rights that exist traditionally to control indigenous knowledge sharing among Namibian communities and use them to develop a conceptual framework that allows community members to choose how they want to preserve and share data about the knowledge they possess on different levels.