An investigation into the attitudes of the !Xun and Khwe communities in South Africa towards protection of indigenous knowledge systems : implications for policy and research
The study made An Investigation Into The Attitudes Of The !Xun And Khwe Communities In Northern Cape, South Africa. Towards Protection Of Indigenous Knowledge Systems And Their Implications For Policy And Research. Taking into consideration the complexity of investigating the attitudes of these indigenous communities, the research followed a participatory and triangulation approach. In order to explore the personal experiences of the respondent community members, the researcher undertook to document these experiences in the form of narratives. The use of narrative in this study was one way of moving away from western empiricism and epistemology. They also help to describe sequences of experiences undergone by a certain group of people in a study area. The major findings of the research were: As a result of isolation from their places of origin and the problem of unemployment, the !Xun and Khwe communities. especially the young generations have become dependent on social welfare grants. However, the majority of the elder generations continued to utilize indigenous knowledge and practices to augment the low income. As a result of historical circumstances including removals, the !Xun and Khwe people have experienced various changes in their lives including westernization. This has impacted on their relationship and attitudes towards the utilization of indigenous knowledge and practices for livelihood. Their satisfaction of basic needs has changed from depending mainly on the veldt products to include wage labour and social welfare grants. The !Xun and Khwe communities expressed the desire to benefit from the new democratic dispensation in South Africa through provision of housing. water, electricity and other social amenities. Education was a necessity that most respondent members valued. It was seen as a vehicle for social mobility in modem conditions of life. The respondent communities realized the role of research in influencing policy that affects their lives. As a result. they wanted to be involved in all research processes instead of merely being used as objects or subjects. There were various aspects of community life that required protection through policy and legislation. These included local resources. especially access to land, indigenous language; cultural heritage and practices including dances and music. Various community structures had been established to address different issues facing the survival of these communities. They called for a better government policy coordination including their participation in policy and legislation formulation and implementation to ensure the survival of their culture including language. On the basis of these findings the study presents the following recommendations to the study communities. individual researchers. organizations and governments within the Southern African region where these indigenous people are located: Researchers should be sensitive to me interest of indigenous communities as participants and co-owners of the whole research process including research results; Researchers should acknowledge the use of narratives as a method of collecting and interpreting data among local and indigenous communities. Narratives help to explore the personal experiences of the community members in relation to the problem under investigation: Researchers and policy makers involved with indigenous communities should not only consult but should ensure that the respective communities as beneficiaries become part of whole research and policy formulation and implementation process. There is need for more research on the impact of westernization. especially the lack of policy and legislation enforcement to protect the lives of indigenous communities against the vagaries of western modernization such as HIV/AIDS. commercialization of indigenous knowledge and resources for profit motives.
- Humanities