Watu Afrika

Watu Afrika raise Africa to dignity and to prosperity

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Watu Afrika needs dating!

Watu Afrika needs the ProM project initiated by the Coalition of the Willing to enable the coalescence of small and medium size networks with specific skills and with access to different kind of resources into super networks, which would surpass the critical mass to move an entire African continent.

Watu Afrika in NOT about an empty social movement following a utopia. Our goal is to build new free and open institutions that empower individuals and local communities, that enable them to create value and to exchange it freely among themselves and with the entire world. We want to help Africans to brake free from the post-colonial system, to put them in charge of their material and cultural resources, to put them in charge of processes of value creation and exchange.

If we can somehow influence the development of the ProM project. I think we would drag it towards building a generic catalyzer. Something suitable for our multi-dimensional approach. Something that would connect open education to resource mapping projects, to open innovation (adding value to resources), to open enterprises for production and distribution, to open currencies, to open commerce with the world, to open governance, etc. This is what I call a Multitude Constructive Revolution in concrete terms.

At this moment I am establishing a pilot project in a small community near Montreal, Canada, where we use this same approach to stimulate local sustainable development. Kate from http://www.africansolutionz.com is now working on establishing a similar pilot project in Ghana. In doing so we hope to learn how to scale up our infrastructure. I am sure that whatever will come out of the ProM project will help us a lot.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

OER Africa: Open Education for Africa

OER Africa provides you access to all the information you will need to learn about and benefit from Open Educational Resources (OER). In brief, the concept of OER describes educational resources that are freely available for use by educators and learners, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or license fees.
Browse and search OER Africa to find information about OERhealthfoundationagriculture and teacher education resources.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How can Africa benefit from its ancestral knowledge?

African Herbal Medicine has the potential to affect real benefits for rural communities across the continent – both as an alternative to Western medicine and also as a way of generating income for tribal people in the less-developed parts of Africa. Herbal plants are a unique natural resource of vast potential value, and should be wisely exploited for the benefit of everyone.

Many species of medicinal trees and plants are already threatened with extinction due to over-exploitation linked to population growth, the spread of diseases (HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, etc.), and unscientific and unmanaged (and hence unsustainable) harvesting techniques such as ring-barking.

© by Giacomo Pirozzi
The problem is that we are not really sure what is actually out there. Research has already identified numerous plants that have preventative and/or curative properties. But how many more are there that we know little or nothing about? How much indigenous knowledge of potentially inestimable value will go to the grave with its custodian, the last tribal elder still in possession of that information?

Several species are already being commercially exploited by foreign interests (exploited unfortunately in the worst sense of the word) – rooibos tea, aloe vera and pelargonium are cases in point. Regretfully little or no benefit has trickled down to the people on the ground, which has understandably bred resentment.

And because these are natural products there is very little in the way of intellectual property protection. Urbanisation, coupled with a critical Western culture which has always pooh-poohed this type of thing as barbaric, has resulted in much of the indigenous knowledge already being lost. What remains is held by the elders and sangomas (medicine men), and is progressively disappearing as the purveyors of the old customs pass on.

I have examined the rapid growth of Chinese Herbal Medicine and believe that, given the opportunity, something similar could happen with its African counterpart. But it needs to happen in a sustainable way – where the natural environment is properly protected and people in deep rural communities can simultaneously reap the benefits.

The first task is to collect the knowledge. With high level of suspicion and cynicism about the motives of those doing the collecting, it will clearly not be easy, but it can definitely be done. If the collection can be done as a continent-wide programme involving the youth, it could have the additional benefit of rebuilding a respect for tradition and bridging the gap between two generations with vastly different perspectives on this issue.

If this could then be commercialised at community level, the spin-offs could be great. The most obvious of these would be (a) new natural cures for many illnesses and ailments, and (b) income generation activities in the rural areas leading to a reduction in the flood of rural people to the urban slums and the accompanying moral degeneration that this brings with it.

But the most valuable just might be the survival of the culture, traditions and way of life that is simply being ‘enveloped’ by the perpetual forward march of ‘civilisation’

By Ian Bentley