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                            Junious Ricardo Stanton

                         Indigenous Knowledge Systems

 

“The European philosophical conspiracy which we call the New Orthodoxy began in the mid-eighteenth century and was fully articulated by Hegel in the early nineteenth century when he asserted that African Deep Thought did not exist, even more it could not possible exist; nor rather, it must not exist. Of course the philosophical magicians could not make African Deep Thought not exist. What they did was to suppress the truth of its existence and simply asserted that it did not exist.” Jacob H. Carruthers from the Preface of MDW NTR Divine Speech A Historical Reflection of African Deep Thought From the Time of the Pharaohs to The Present

 

We are engaged in a life and death struggle, we must not be fooled by the fact a bi-racial man was selected to run for president and won the election, we must not be tricked into believing this nation has changed the fundamental power relationship between the ruling class and people of color no matter how many police officers, chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, council people, judges and state legislators we have. Every day we see evidence this culture does not value us unless it can extract something from us, even our vey souls.

Sadly there are still many of us who willingly sell our souls for trinkets, a pat on the head by the exploiters or negate our African heritage and ancestry to fit into their system. Unfortunately far too many of us do not know our history and legacy of innovation because we have not been taught the dynamism of African deep thought, ethics, morality and ways to navigate this thing we call life. We have allowed ourselves to be duped and brainwashed into accepting and believing we have nothing of value to offer or share with the world. Not so, in many ways, we are the salvation this planet needs.

Ironically Europeans who once ridiculed, denigrated and suppressed indigenous African knowledge, wisdom and spirituality are now turning to African and indigenous people to find meaning in their lives, give Western society a much needed moral grounding, sense of purpose and to use valuable indigenous knowledge for sustainability and profit. There is a whole new field called Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) where Westerners are looking at ancient and aboriginal ways of living, relating to one another, environmental sustainability, healing modalities and philosophies. “Indigenous knowledge refers to the understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings. For rural and indigenous peoples, local knowledge informs decision-making about fundamental aspects of day-to- day life. Sophisticated knowledge of the natural world is not confined to science. Societies from all parts of the world possess rich sets of experiences, understanding and explanations. This knowledge is integral to a cultural complex that also encompasses language, systems of classification, resource use practices, social interactions, ritual and spirituality.” Indigenous Knowledge Systems Explained https://www.herald.co.zw/indigenous-knowledge-systems-explained/

Our African ancestors postulated the universe had purpose, intelligent design and a vital energy/intelligence that permeates everything. Within traditional African groups there was a deep seated sense of connectedness, unity, a need for reverence and living in harmony with nature. Ubuntu, “I am because we are, we are because I am”, was the underlying philosophy of traditional continental African culture. Maat was the cosmological and ethical foundation of ancient African society. Cooperation, intra and inter generational mutual aid were how Africans lived and worked for the benefit of the whole group.

Even during enslavement we shared our knowledge and genius with each other and the enslavers most times with no compensation or credit! Think about George Washington Carver and his invaluable impact on science and agriculture as one example. Indigenous knowledge was the basis of much of Carver’s work.

Eurasians developed an ethos of reckless greed, violence, domination, exploitation and disconnection. They spread it globally and now are discovering these values and systems are unsustainable. Now the West is turning to indigenous people to provide models how to best survive.  As they study indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) we see a dual approach developing: on one level there is the realization climate change; Western environmental disharmony; ecological antagonism and exploitation are unsustainable that their policies are creating disastrous consequences for the whole planet. Those who see this are looking for ways to forestall or reverse these trends. Living in harmony with nature and humanity is an unfamiliar perspective for the West and they’re forced to turn to aboriginal people to show them how to do it!

 On the flip side we can see they are merely interested in indigenous knowledge systems as a way to increase their bottom line, develop new products to market totally devoid of any change in values, the way they do business or concern for the life of the planet.

As the direct heirs of indigenous knowledge and the true custodians of this planet, we must recognize and re-embrace IKS, rediscover our connection to nature, expand upon it and use it to save the planet and ourselves from the irresponsible policies of the exploiters. We have an obligation to relearn the deep thought of our ancestors, become proud custodians of this knowledge and apply it in practical ways such as urban farming/gardening, cooperative social relationships and mutually beneficial group economics, locally and internationally.

 

                                    -30-

 

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