In this video, Ladi Semali, Associate Professor of Education, discusses science education in Tanzania and brings up the issue of inappropriate representation of Africa by the media. He provides a glimpse into the African perspective on happiness. There are many "happy hours" in African cultures and they are not just at the end of the workday. They are spontaneous. So happiness and hopelessness may co-exist and stories about both states of being need to be independently explored to express the real meaning of poverty.
Education for Self-Reliance: Application of science and treatment of life in the community. The basic concepts of sustaining for oneself needs to be taught in schools because with the knowledge of how to satisfy these basic needs, people will be self-sustainable and will be able to rely on themselves.
Science and Food Preservation: The science behind the process of treating and handling food to stop or slow down spoilage. Drying is the technique of removing moisture to extend shelf life. This is important knowledge because drying helps food last longer, and allows the product to be on the market shelf for a longer time, increasing the chance that it will be sold or consumed.
Progress: The idea that the world will benefit from the scientific development of technology, which will improve the quality of human life. If we are able to preserve indigenous knowledge that has been passed down for generations, we may find it useful in solving the problems we face today or in the future. Once the scientific principles behind indigenous knowledge are understood, these principles can be applied broadly to the development of new technologies that can be widely employed to benefit mankind.
Poverty: Lack of basic human needs, such as clean water, adequate nutrition, health care, education, clothing, and shelter because of the inability to afford them.
Happy Hour: Spending time with family and community members, rituals, baptisms, celebrations, marriages, etc. Happiness does not depend on wealth. Strong community bonds help build trust, which is important for working together to improve and sustain a society.
Discuss what poverty is and what it means to the students. Do you know people who experience it? Reflect on your current life. How can indigenous knowledge help people who live in poverty, who do not have the financial means to purchase food?
- Share examples of poverty with the class. What activities do you perform on a daily basis that you will continue to do throughout your life? Do you know how to cook food, clean house, and launder your clothes? Do you know how to plant and take care of a garden? What knowledge has been passed down to you about these practices?
- Is it useful to have some of these skills? Will they help you be self-reliant now and in the future?
Discussion topics related to this video
- What is the African perspective on happiness? How does it compare to your perspective?
- Do you agree that people get their happiness from material items? What things do you use in your everyday life that you could reasonably live without?
- What does happiness mean to you? What are your “happy hours”? Give examples of some ceremonies that take place in your community and/or family. What meaning do they have? How have these ceremonies changed over the years? How did these ceremonies originate? Ceremonies are an example of indigenous knowledge, because they have been passed down from generation to generation and may serve a useful purpose in maintaining cohesion in the community. What do your community rituals mean to you?
- What are ways in which you could be more self-reliant? What practices can you learn from your parents and families that will help you be less dependent?
- What skills do you think would be good to learn in school that would be helpful for your life after school?
Related Indigenous Knowledge topics for further exploration
- In the Multi-Million Smile Enterprises video, how does the cell phone based social networking system (WishVast) transform a cell phone from a material item (something not everyone has, but makes life easier) into a product that can improve the quality of people’s lives?
- In the Grassroots Sustainability video, how is Havana, Cuba practicing self-reliance? How can you and people you know be more self-reliant in your daily lives?
Education for Self-Reliance
This is Julius Nyerere’s paper on education for self-reliance. He believes that schools should teach students basic ways in which to be self-reliant. He delves into colonial education in Tanzania and asks the question: What kind of society are we trying to build?
Indigenous Knowledge, Biodiversity Conservation, and Poverty Alleviation
The Biocultural Diversity Conservation website is for anyone who has interest in protecting and restoring the biocultural diversity of life. In one of their projects they try to use indigenous knowledge to solve problems of poverty among ethnic minorities in Yunnan, China. This is a link to the project where you can find more details about their efforts in Yunnan, China.
Indigenous Knowledge for Development
This article is about using indigenous knowledge as a significant resource to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability of the development process. According to James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, "Indigenous knowledge is an integral part of the culture and history of a local community. We need to learn from local communities to enrich the development process." To learn more about indigenous knowledge for development visit this article by Nicolas Gorjestani, Chief Knowledge Officer, Africa Region, The World Bank.
Indigenous Knowledge Meets Science
This article is about the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples and their knowledge of the weather. In this article, according to Professor Laban Ogallo, leader of the Nganyi project, "Poverty reduction is clearly related to managing the extreme weather of the region."