FS IKS photo1_Group

Delegates from the Department of Science and Technology, members from the Centre for Gender and African Studies, UFS joined the Queen Maroka and her daughter at the launch of Indigenous Knowledge System Documentation Centre at the Barolong Cultural Village in Thaba Nchu on the 26 June 2015.

The office of the Free State Indigenous Knowledge Systems Documentation Centre supported by the National Indigenous Knowledge Systems Office (NIKSO) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is situated in the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies (CAS) at the University of Free State (UFS), and has been active since 15 April 2013. The Free State IKSDC began its pilot project in Thaba Nchu, which is comprised of 42 villages. In this community, a steering committee was created, a team recruited, IK holders identified, documented and recorded through the various challenges and highlights.

In 2016/17, the FS IKSDC set out to expand its reach with the aim to bring more communities under the National Recordal System (NRS) in the Free State, while simultaneously continue working in Thaba Nchu.

The community that was identified as the next area to be recorded and documented was the Botshabelo community in the Motheo District (same district as Thaba Nchu and Bloemfontein). Botshabelo is an urban area but it has a lot of associations and groupings which have interest in IK.

Further communities which were identified include the Griqua People in the Xhariep District Municipality. The places that were identified include Phillipolis, Trompsburg, Edenburg, Bethulie, and Springfontein.

National Recordal System (NRS) and NIKMAS

The IKS Documentation Centres (one per province around South Africa) around the country are viewed as a pillar for the National Recordal System (NRS) Project in local and indigenous communities.

The National Recordal System (NRS) initiative is undertaken by the Department of Science and Technology to enable communities, guilds and other holders of Indigenous Knowledge to record their knowledge holdings for the purpose of future economic benefit and social good. It is envisioned to be the leading IKS treasure hub through the recording, storing, management, maintenance, dissemination, and protection of IK for communal socio-economic development in South Africa. The NRS will be supported by National Indigenous Knowledge Management System (NIKMAS) which will comprise a semantic Digital Library with custom-developed metadata schemata and a sophisticated security model to protect, preserve IK, an advanced semantic search engine, a sophisticated catalogue system, and an overarching integration architecture that combines the subsystems into a coherent, fit for the purpose system.

NIKMAS will be linked through cyber infrastructure to Provincial IKS Documentation Centres where the collection, documentation, storage and dissemination and related activities will take place.

The South African National Research and Development Strategy and the National IKS Policy (2004), talk about the need to establish appropriate regulating mechanisms, which can develop protocols and codes of conduct on the documentation and uses of IKS resources. NIKSO, as an Office in the Department of Science and Technology, through the IKS Policy is tasked with the recording, protection, dissemination, and beneficiation of IKS.

The IKS Policy proposes that the establishment of IKS Documentation Centers be located within existing structures such as universities, community centres, etc. Such location will act as a facilitating and enabling mechanism, and its services, programmes and projects should involve broad participation and collaboration of members of local and indigenous communities. The rationale for the establishment of such IKS Documentation Centres is to effectively enable and to facilitate the collection of IK in electronic format, within communities, to be captured in NIKMAS with the aim to preserve, promote, and disseminate for the primary benefit of the community and research and innovation.

The establishment of an IKS Documentation Centre should build on the indigenous know-how and knowledge of local people. This includes ensuring the management and co-existence between the IKS Documentation Centre (s) within the Province and NIKMAS (ICT system that will hold the captured IK). The IKS Documentation Centre thus needs to support the National Recordal System in standardizing the management (including capturing, storing, maintenance, and dissemination) of IK with identified communities.

The primary activities to take place at the principle IKS Documentation Centre include but are not limited to the following:

  • To collect, document, and disseminate information on various components of indigenous knowledge within but not limited to the following themes: African Traditional medicine and indigenous foods;
  • To research and mount displays on various aspects of IKS for example indigenous games linked to mathematics, fermentation of beer (linked to chemistry) and indigenous technologies and metallurgy, etc.;
  • To integrate IKS with other forms of knowledge including science as part of mainstreaming and valorization its significance and recognition in the knowledge economy;
  • To conduct training programmes and design materials on IKS for development workers in IKS, practitioners and holders;
  • To conduct interdisciplinary research on IKS;
  • To develop cost-effective and reliable methodologies for recording indigenous knowledge;
  • To assist in the formulation of policies and design technical assistance programmes based on indigenous knowledge.
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The Thaba Nchu team with Dr S Cawood and Matau Setshase

Project Advisor: Dr Stephanie Cawood

Advises the IKSDC Project Coordinator and guides the planning of the project.

IKSDC Project Coordinator: Edward Charles Human

Plans and oversees all the activities of the project, including but not limited to administrative duties in the University of Free State, team leadership, reporting, and overall managing the activities of the IKSDC.

Community Coordinator (CC)

Liaises between the community and the IKSDC and will also report to the Project Coordinator.

IK Recorders

Record and document IKS within the designated community.


He is the current Free State IKSDC Project Coordinator. He is also the South African Ambassador for the First Nations.

Edward Charles Human


She was the inaugural Free State IKSDC Project Coordinator in the Free State from.

Matau Setshase


T: +27 51 401 2240 or humanities@ufs.ac.za

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Katlego Mabulana: +27 51 401 2495
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

Humanities photo next to contact block

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