A request to have the African Multi-Country Institute of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AIIKS) recognized as a strategic partner of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is currently underway. .
The institute, focused on promoting research and scholarship on indigenous knowledge systems at the continental level, came into effect earlier this year when an agreement establishing the institute was signed during a virtual ceremony organized by the South African University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). at the end of January.
The institute is a partnership of 19 autonomous higher education and research institutions with a common interest in the advancement of African indigenous knowledge.
This is a virtual institute based on a hub and node model with UKZN serving as the hub for the institute through the Department of Science and Innovation-National Knowledge Systems Research Center Indigenous Peoples (CIKS), a partnership with the University of the Northwest, the Universities of Limpopo and Venda and the University of South Africa.
The nodes are located in English, French and Portuguese speaking countries and, besides South Africa and Rwanda, they include research institutes and universities in Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda , Senegal, Zambia, Kenya and Mozambique.
In Rwanda, there are three nodes, all based at the University of Rwanda: the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management, the Center for Conflict Management and the Huye Biotechnology Laboratory.
According to Professor Nelson Ijumba, project coordinator and former vice-chancellor of universities and research at the University of Rwanda (UR), UNESCO accreditation “will enhance the status of the institute by giving it a mandate. global “.
Ijumba said the UNESCO nomination was approved by the South African government and supported by the Tanzanian government. “We plan to submit the nomination to UNESCO within the next two weeks,” he said. News from academia by phone from South Africa this week.
According to Ijumba, who is also Honorary Professor of Electrical Engineering at UKZN, AIIKS seeks to advance African indigenous knowledge and promote its contribution globally.
“The vision of the institute is to be a center of African indigenous knowledge for the advancement of African scholarship and the restoration of African dignity. Its mission is to promote and support the contribution of African indigenous knowledge systems to the global knowledge pool, ”said Ijumba.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Western knowledge systems do not necessarily have all the solutions to global challenges. In a number of African countries, communities have been successful in applying local solutions to successfully deal with some aspects of the pandemic, ”said Ijumba.
Among other areas of focus, the institute will promote the history of indigenous African science, technology and innovation, anchored in indigenous African languages and local philosophies for Africa, in accordance with the ‘Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
“This will enable indigenous African science, technology, innovation, social, political and economic thought to contribute to the global pool of knowledge on Africa’s own terms in the search for lasting solutions to global challenges. “Said Ijumba.
For example, the pool of bio-resources and knowledge held by African indigenous knowledge holders and practitioners could enable African indigenous communities to participate in the global bioeconomy, thereby achieving empowerment and ensuring sustainable livelihoods, a- he declared.
AIIKS builds a critical mass of AIKS human capital, which is multi and transdisciplinary and aware of AIKS worldviews, modes of knowledge, value systems and research methodologies, to stimulate research, innovation and knowledge creation in strategic areas of sustainable development in Africa. .
To this end, AIIKS sets up national, regional and continental postgraduate training and support programs. Students will come from AIIKS nodes and partners.
Participating research centers include the Institute of Traditional Medicine and the National Institute of Medical Research of Tanzania, the Swiss Center for Scientific Research in Côte d’Ivoire, the National Agency for Applied Scientific Research in Senegal, the Center for Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine in Uganda, the African Academy of Leadership and Management in Zimbabwe, the Multidisciplinary Research Center in Namibia and the Dag Hammarskjold Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies in Zambia .
Participating universities include Kisii University in Kenya, Copperbelt University in Zambia, University of Zambia, University of Namibia, Zimbabwe National University of Science and Technology, Makerere University and University of science and technology from Mbarara in Uganda, Félix Houphouët-Boigny University in Côte d’Ivoire, the University of Rwanda, Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, Muhimbili University of Health and Related Sciences in Tanzania, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and UKZN.