Use of indigenous knowledge to determine weather patterns: A case study of women mussel harvesters at KwaNgwanase in Kwazulu-Natal
Despite the prevalence and erratic nature of changes in weather patterns, these patterns are still difficult to determine. People in the agricultural sector, in particular, need to understand weather pattern changes because of the effects of these changes on their social and economic lives. Many agriculturalists, especially women harvesting mussels, do not apply correct harvesting methods and practices, and harvest during the wrong seasons of the year. Incorrect harvesting behaviour relates closely to a misinterpretation of weather patterns. Improved understanding of weather conditions and patterns would greatly assist women harvesters of seafood such as mussels to harvest correctly, and so prevent a depletion of the ocean’s resources and help maintain its delicate ecosystem. This article explores indigenous knowledge techniques for understanding and interpreting weather patterns. Focus group discussions, interviews, observations and document analyses were used to collect data. The findings reveal that weather patterns are determined by the wind, the stars, cloud formation and birds and insects, to name but a few. Despite sophisticated 21st century methods of determining weather patterns, this article examines the importance of indigenous knowledge in determining and understanding weather patterns, and the effect of weather patterns on people such as farmers and those involved in ocean harvesting.
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, weather patterns, women mussel harvesters, KwaZulu-Natal.