“African Customary Law: Contemporary Issues” and the launch of the Center for Indigenous Law

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On receiving the news of the upcoming conference organised by the Department of Public Constitutional and International Law; on “African Customary Law: Contemporary issues” and the launch of the Center for Indigenous Law at the University of South Africa i became so interested in African Customary Law as a discipline.

With so much being debated around the Traditional Courts Bill as an attempt by the state to address the gaps in the traditional sector, i wonder if the launch of the Center for Indigenous Law was a precursor for probable solutions for the now defaced Traditional Sector. How would the center help our Indigenous Knowledge Systems find their place in the predominantly Northern Hemispheric knowledge contained in records used in mainstream education?

Its really disturbing to note locally, people find cracks in the education system but seldom engage on Indigenous Knowledge Systems as crucial in addressing same. Where IKS are spoken about, many reduce them to smaller aspects like African herbs and healers. There is a need to dymystify this differential ignorance and promote the ideal of including IKS into mainstream education to a point where learners in schools do not think of school subjects as abstract but content with social and cultural relevance. For instance, the indigenous game called morabaraba contains geometrical symbols and theory which is an indication our forebears were aware of Mathematics way before colonisation and apartheid put a dent on our Indigenous Knowledge.

No wonder pupils in schools see maths and science as abstract monsters which prey on human minds. Many teachers still go with the notion maths, science, astronomy etc are only found in other knowledge systems which have thus far succeeded in destroying the psyche of the lay man and woman.

We need to start promoting Indigenous Knowledge in mainstream education so as to allow our children from the family level up to school level, to understand most of the subjects taught at school are not foreign to our Indigenous Knowledge System. That they are in fact part and parcel of the knowledge. Thus, this responsibility rests on both parents and teachers to not only teach but teach using practical examples found within our communities. 

 

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