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Mathematical Ideas In Some Cooperative Work Activities Of The Shangani People Of Southern Zimbabwe

T Sibanda
D Mtetwa
A Zobolo


The interface between Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), cultural practices and mathematics is currently generating a great deal of interest among mathematics education researchers and practitioners alike. This article uses mathematical lenses to examine the cultural practice of dhava (cooperative work) among the Shangani people of southern Zimbabwe. The authors show how mathematics can be used to describe, understand and inform cultural phenomena while at the same time cultural practices can act as inspirational sources for the generation and examination of some mathematical skills and concepts. It is proposed here that such situations can actually be played out in the
mathematics classroom to the benefit and enjoyment of the learner. In particular, the
authors' claim that doing so can lead to increased appreciation by the learners of their
own culture and self-identity, and of mathematics as a discipline as well.

Keywords: Cooperative work, mathematical ideas, cultural practices.

Indilinga Vol. 6 (1) 2007 pp. 51-63