n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - Protecting indigenous knowledge and the rights and interests of indigenous medicine practitioners in Africa : law, leadership and governance

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1683-0296



This article identifies the rights and interests of indigenous medicine practitioners and analyzes the extent to which they are currently protected in selected countries in Africa. Utilizing document analysis and interviews, the findings underscore the challenges and urgent need to protect Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) and the rights and needs of the practitioners especially in the wake of globalization. The findings revealed an urgent need for intellectual property rights, drafting the legislation and implementing the laws among others. The challenge is to keep the question of whether the intellectual property rights appropriately apply in the African context. In some countries the practitioners' rights are recognized and legislation to protect them has been drafted such as in South Africa. Indigenous knowledge as a body of knowledge and some of the practices are characterized as mysterious. There appears to be misconceptions about the body of knowledge as compared to modern medicine. The protection of IKS, given its complex nature, required a long consultative process. Ultimately, a continental, multi-sectoral and an Inter-, Trans- and Multi-disciplinary (MIT) approaches might be the most appropriate in the protection of the IKS and the needs and interests of indigenous medical practitioners.

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