Rural communities as sites of knowledge: A case for African epistemologies
The role of indigenous knowledge systems in the development of South Africa has been examined from a number of perspectives. This article contributes to this discourse by paying particular attention to the prospects of using the indigenous knowledge systems as growth centres or sites for affirming the African Renaissance idea. Thus, the article argues that the indigenous knowledge systems constitute an ontology on its own terms with both theoretical and practical (utilitarian) properties. The argument is that the indigenous knowledge systems reside in the rural areas (sites) and are available as tools for regional transformation processes. One challenge addressed here concerns how the public authorities, in particular, the state institutions and organisations, could provide the enabling environment for this vital element of rural life to make its unique contribution to South Africa’s and for that matter, Africa’s reconstruction discourse. The article begins with an overview of the position of the indigenous knowledge systems of Africa in general and compliments this with particular reference to examples from South Africa.
Keywords: Rural development, sites of knowledge, indigenous knowledge systems, epistemic pluralism, ontology, democracy, phenomenology, Afrocentrism, philosophy, African Renaissance.