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Knowledge and cultural transmission in Kenyan participatory mapping

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I was part of this process here near the town of Nakuru in Kenya. We were working with the Ogiek community. The Ogiek are one of the original hunter-gatherer peoples of Kenya, ... ... living in the Mau Forest. The purpose of the exercise was to allow ... ... a section of the Ogiek community to map out, ... ... using this three dimensional model technique, ... ... their traditional territory and their traditional land use patterns. It was an exercise in memory ... ... in trying to help young people and the community understand their heritage and their history, ... ... which was both environmental and cultural. From my side, it was a tremendous experience. I learned a great deal. The methodology itself was very interesting. To watch it unfold, the process of the map building, the coding. For me, the most significant parts were the participatory aspects, ... ... the enthusiasm of the community to do this work, ... ... but in particular, the co-operation between elders both men and women ... ... and young people, meaning young adults, and then also school-age children. I have worked on a number of projects where we have looked at intergenerational knowledge transmission ... ... language transmission, knowledge transmission, heritage transmission, ... ... and this was one of the most intense tools I have ever seen where a lot of tacit knowledge, ... ... knowledge the elders hold but sometimes don't even know that they hold, ... ... that can easily be lost over time. The technique of the three dimensions ... ... encouraged the elders to explain their environmental, natural, and cultural knowledge ... ... in a more thorough and complete way. The evidence of this was when we started, ... ... we worked on the legend. The legend is the key for the coding of the map. A young Ogiek activist who had been very involved in research, ... ... felt fairly confident that he understood ... ... traditional Ogiek concepts of the land, the vegetation, the altitudes, the land use. He did in fact. He was very good at that. But as the three dimensions of the map evolved, and the different clans ... ... and the elders came in, suddenly there were layers and layers of more information. The environmental knowledge was substantially more complex ... ... than we had thought of at the beginning. You can elicit that with other methods. There are ways to do it: to walk on the land, for instance ... ... but to do that is a much slower process because you have to go up a mountainside, ... ... double check information, try to get referencing, but here on the three dimensions, ... ... you could see the relationship between altitude, vegetation, landscapes, land use patterns, all at once. People could point. And you could move across huge territories with your finger. The relationships of the knowledge systems, the relationships of the environmental zones, ... ... become more explicit and the whole thing comes together. The young people were paying a great deal of attention. The elders were debating, dialoguing, extracting meaning, ... ... and also this inter-linguistic process ... - we were working in Ogiek, Kiswahili, and English - ... ... allowed us to explore the meanings of each one of these concepts. So rather than just a raw process of transferring Ogiek terminology ... ... at each level we kept having to investigate that and understand what the meaning was. From my side, probably the most important aspect was this sort of massive, ... ... intense transfer of traditional knowledge between generations. What the community said at the end of the process was 'we learned so much'. For the elders, it was a complete affirmation of their real, lived experience. For the younger generation, it was an awakening that the environment ... ... they are in is much more complex than they had understood ... ... and that there were a lot of things that they would need to follow up with the elders ... ... to really understand in greater depth. But it is all mapped out for them and they can go back to it at any point they want ... ... and then investigate deeper into each of those meanings. I have to say congratulations to the community ... ... and to CTA and to ERMIS Africa for doing very good work ... ... in the preparation and execution of the project. Educational video produced in the framework of the project: " Support the spread of good practice ... ... in generating, managing, analysing and communicating spatial information."

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 42 seconds
Country: Kenya
Language: English
Producer: CTA
Director: Giacomo Rambaldi
Views: 474
Posted by: giacomo on Feb 15, 2010

In this 5 minute interview Dr. Nigel Crawhall, Director of Secretariat at IPACC, elaborates on intergenerational ecological knowledge transmission in Participatory 3-dimensional modelling (P3DM). Crawhall discusses his observations on intergenerational interaction when the Ogiek community of Nessuit, Kenya built a geo-referenced model of their mountain forest landscape in 2006.

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