Indigenous Knowledge

Anthony M. Wanjohi:

Indigenous Knowledge (IK)  can be understood as knowledge that has evolved in a particular societal context which is used by lay people in that context in the conduct of their lives. It is generated in specific local contexts in response to specific local problems, it is often influenced by knowledge generated in other settings (Sharon, 2009).


IK is used at the local level by communities as the basis for decisions pertaining to food security, human and animal health, education, natural resources management, and other vital activities. It is a key element of the social capital of the poor and constitutes their main asset in their efforts to gain control of their own lives. This form of knowledge has been used by various people in the world from time immemorial.


In the early 1970s, for instance, indigenous people in Canada began to organize themselves in an effort to rediscover and revitalize their traditional knowledge, heritages, and consciousness. Since the,  appropriate research for indigenous peoples and communities has become a significant issue (Barman, Hebert, & McCaskill, 1986).


Encounters with new or changed environments may constitute a significant challenge to existing knowledge, practice and representations. In some cases, these novel experiences may engender new knowledge which adds to and expands existing understandings and ways of doing. This has made Indigenous peoples cope with historical shifts in the challenged environment.  New technologies, for example, may allow people to frequent places or habitats that are normally beyond their reach. Analyses from the perspective of historical ecology demonstrate how different global environment have been shaped by indigenous societies For instance, analyses from the perspective of historical ecology demonstrate how tropical forest ecosystems of the Amazon (the ‘virgin wilderness’ par excellence) have been shaped by indigenous societies. Similarly, the creation of the Australian landscape as a biologically diverse mosaic of habitats is very much a human undertaking that has been orchestrated by Aboriginal peoples’ judicious application of fire (UNESCO, 2007). яндекс


Basically, Indigenous Knowledge is very much shaped by the environment. Africa as compared to other continents is endowed with rich environment that typically places her people in a position to become innovators. However, this has not been the case. There is need to excite the inner drives and potentials of Africans to tap from the riches of the mother earth.



Barman, J., Hebert, Y., & McCaskill, D. (1986). Indian education in Canada: The Legacy.Vancouver: UBC Press.


Sharon, B. (2009). An Introduction to Core Concepts and Objectives: What are Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources and Traditional Cultural Expressions and Why Should They Receive Legal Protection? Regional Seminar Bangkok, Thailand.


UNESCO (2007). Indigenous Knowledge and Changing Environments: Biological and cultural diversities in transition. International Experts Meeting 19 to 23 August 2007, CairnsAustralia. UNESCO.