n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - as African IKS : epistemological and ethical implications of selected Shona taboos




The tradition of (taboos) has been commonplace in many African societies since time immemorial. Taboos saved as codes of conduct/commandments and indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) and beliefs that helped in preserving the natural environment, peace, order and the integrity of African societal structures. However, in many African societies like Zimbabwe, taboos are now marginalized and fast phasing out. Zimbabwe's socio-economic challenges and the tide of modernization that has swept across the country are partly blamed for the daunting and phasing out of some highly esteemed taboos in the country. This article, therefore, explores African indigenous knowledge systems, particularly taboos and examines how these helped the Shona people of Zimbabwe in preserving natural resources and the environment; in saving as indigenous curriculum with ethical codes of conduct and epistemological systems for present and subsequent generations. In this attempt, the article shows how taboos helped in preserving the natural resources, fostering peace, good character and moral uprightness among the Shona people. Finally, the article explores the implications and impact of marginalizing taboos by the new generation on crime rate, moral decadence, ecosystem and environmental degradation. In light of this observation, the article contends that taboos need to be re-instituted as an 'ethno-science' that promotes human values while at the same time moving at pace with modernity. Only then would we be able to talk of Africa's sustainable development.


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