Academic journal article Journal of Thought

African Indigenous Knowledge: Claiming, Writing, Storing, and Sharing the Discourse

Academic journal article Journal of Thought

African Indigenous Knowledge: Claiming, Writing, Storing, and Sharing the Discourse

Article excerpt

   Commitment to a fundamental vision, a profound project, a spiritual
   quest, is the king of commitment that demonstrates vision ... a
   visionary aspect to a relationship establishes a purpose outside
   of and beyond the daily considerations of living. ... Visionaries
   do not simply work for others, they extend what they find. ...
   The visionaries say we shall do such and such and believe that
   it will be done because all things are possible. (Asante, 2003,


In indigenous ways of knowing, the self exists within a world subject to flux. The purpose of these ways of knowing is to reunify the world or at least reconcile the world with itself. Uniting these ways of knowing is necessary as each contributes to human development and requires its own appropriate expression. These ways hold at their teaching source a caring and feeling that survives the tensions of listening for the way of living within the context of flux, paradox, and tension; they respect the pull of dualism and reconcile opposing forces. In the realms of flux and paradox, 'truthing' is a practice that enables a person to know the spirit in every relationship. To develop these ways of knowing leads the person to a freedom of consciousness and a union with the natural world. In African systems of thought, the ontological position emphasizes that to understand reality is to weave a holistic view of society, that is, to accept the need for harmonious co-existence between nature, culture and society. Similarly, the epistemological position asserts that there are differing ways of viewing reality. Therefore, in the African context, knowledge is seen as cumulative and (is formed) from our everyday experiences (Scheurich & Young, 1997; Arewa, 1998).

This paper centers around two questions: (1) How can we utilize an indigenous African knowledge base in the academy? and (2) How can we bridge communications gaps between generations, diverse cultures of peoples of African ancestry and Canadianism? My engagement with these questions focuses on African indigenous education and community solidarity as I examine African indigenous knowledge as a form of epistemological recuperation for peoples of African ancestry. When I talk about indigenous knowledge, I do so as a counter-hegemonic challenge to the conventional discourse on African people. I do not exaggerate when I say that the cultural resource base and local knowledge of African people are the least analyzed, considered, or understood for their contributions to knowledge production or even to the survival of our communities, specifically when compared to other bodies of knowledge.

The goal is to dissect and examine the academic imperialism that currently controls and shapes the social, economic and political expressions of Africans and then create indigenous tools for teaching, learning and educating future generations.

I examine the utilization of African Indigenous Knowledge as a strategic tool that may be effectively employed in

1. Decolonizing ways of knowing, teaching and learning within the academy.

2. Creating African awareness both in the academy and globally.

3. Challenging the institutional powers and imperialistic structures that have prevented many African peoples from realizing the importance of dismantling the structures left behind by colonizers after the attainment of political independence.

4. Evoking alternative paradigms of education and social growth.

5. Acknowledging the current role of the educational system in producing and reproducing racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, sexual and class-based inequities in society.

I refer to this strategy as the rewriting of history and the repositioning of African indigenous knowledge, a strategy crucial to social transformation. I use the terms indigenous and traditional interchangeably and, in this sense, traditional denotes a continuity of cultural values honed from past experiences and which shape the present--that is, how indigenous peoples have accommodated their new form of neo-cultural experiences. …

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