'Perceptions of reality'? challenges of climate change to indigenous knowledge systems in Vhembe district municipality, South Africa

Chiyemura, Frangton and Mokgale, Makgopa (2016). 'Perceptions of reality'? challenges of climate change to indigenous knowledge systems in Vhembe district municipality, South Africa. Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems, 15(2) pp. 88–103.

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Abstract

Climate change and variability is defined as change attributed directly or indirectly to human and natural circumstances that alters the composition of the global atmosphere. Different regions encounter different challenges and, as a result, climate change is increasingly recognized as a threat to not only development issues, but embodiments of indigenous knowledge systems. In its broadest sense, indigenous knowledge represents knowledge and skills which people in a particular geographic area possess and enables them to get the most out of their environment. That said, there is a humanecology interaction that is mutual and a threat to one entity resultantly affects the other. Climate change therefore, challenges the human-ecology interaction as it diminishes the retention capacity of the environment to humanity. Given the above background, the paper investigated the perceived challenges posed by climate change on human-ecology interaction within indigenous knowledge approach, framed on human security approach of climate change. Data is gathered through the use of interviews, questionnaires, focus group discussion and literature on the subject matter. Through the use of predominantly qualitative data and less of quantitative data analysis techniques, the study found that climate change is highly perceived as a real threat to indigenous knowledge systems, in particular those directly aligned to the environment. Unless there is drastic community lead interventionist approach to saving the environment, the perceived knowledge possessed in relation to the environment, will diminish, disappear and then die a natural death.

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