n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - Coping with drought : indigenous knowledge application in rural South Africa

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1683-0296



This article is based on a study that investigated how indigenous knowledge (IK) is used by older persons to cope with drought by applying a culture-sensitive research method. A purposive sampling of 30 Bastwana males and 45 females (age range = 22 and 60+) living in the North-West Province district of South Africa were recruited. Data were gathered by applying the Mmogo-methodâ„¢ (Roos, 2008; Roos, 2010) and focus groups. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse the textual data and the visual data were analysed by using latent and manifest content analysis. The findings indicated that older persons depend on knowledge of weather patterns to know the type of crops they should plant. Food is dried and stockpiled, the size of a herd is reduced and older or sick animals are bartered first. Different animal grazing strategies and methods of water conservation are employed. Traditional beliefs and religious practices also play an essential part in the coping with drought and the sharing of resources unites people, as do stokvels and burial societies. IK is not recognized as important. This is partly because IK is oral and mainly found in rural communities, but it could also indicate a disregard for older persons' knowledge. IK contains a wealth of information that is passed from generation to generation and that assists older persons to adapt to suit their own circumstances. IK fulfils an important role in the socialising processes of the community. Young people learn about values, and beliefs; and through these processes a body of knowledge is accumulated and transmitted.

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