Public libraries in South Africa engage
with local communities to preserve indigenous knowledge. This
involves teaching them to use ICT tools.
Nowadays, ICTs can help to document and
disseminate indigenous knowledge. In South Africa, it is mainly
libraries that have accepted the challenge of preserving indigenous
knowledge systems. For example, the consortium of eThekwini Municipal
Libraries, which serves 89 local public libraries in the Durban area
(Durban is the second-largest city of South Africa), started a
crowdsourcing experiment to collect local indigenous knowledge.
This Ulwazi programme mainly records
Zulu culture, but it has the broader aim of capturing the mix and
interaction of different cultures in the Durban area. Examples of
indigenous knowledge collected through the Ulwazi programme are
traditional celebrations, traditional clothing, Zulu proverbs,
traditional folk tales, the use of spiritual herbs and traditional
The Ulwazi programme has a
collaborative online community memory database of local indigenous
knowledge. It relies on the community to deliver content and post it
on the web. The community assumes ownership of the database, while
the library focuses on custodianship of the information resource.
Community participation ensures that local knowledge is collected,
recorded and preserved, and in the process it therefore shares
knowledge, develops people’s skills, creates job opportunities and
empowers local communities.
The Ulwazi Community Memory website has
been developed in the form of a wiki, an open-source webpage designed
to enable contributions and modifications from multiple users. It
also runs a blog and other social software applications, such as
Facebook and Twitter.
At the moment Ulwazi does not have a
process for collecting indigenous knowledge via mobile phones, but
this has been under discussion and should be rolled out in the next
year or so.
Indigenous knowledge is collected from
local communities through community journalists, members of the
public who can register an account and submit a story on a more
ad-hoc basis, and through direct engagement with local residents
often through community groups. Community journalists are actively
recruited. They are generally younger people from the communities
with some ICT skills, an interest in heritage and culture, and a
desire to acquire new skills and gain work experience. The community
journalists collect stories through personal interviews, in the form
of audio recordings and video interviews.
(Source: ICT Update)