Project Brief:
The University of KwaZulu-Natal has identified African Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AIKS) as one the three signature projects of the institutions. The other signature projects are marine science; gender, race and identity. The mandate of AIKS as a signature project is to facilitate and coordinate the integration of African Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AIKS) into the core business of UKZN i.e. research, teaching, learning and community engagement.

Vision and Mission of AIKS Signature Project
To make UKZN a world rallying hub for scholars on AIKS and African Scholarship through research, teaching, learning and community engagement consistent with the institutional vision of becoming the “Premier University of African Scholarship”.

Project Achievements since Inception 2012:
The project has already registered a number of achievements in this process since its inception in May 2013:
  • Establishment of a Coordinating Office (Westville Campus Library) which also hosts the DST/ IKS Documentation Centre;
  • Creation of a Multi-disciplinary Advisory Team composed of internal and externalmembers including Indigenous Knowledge holders and practitioners ;
  • Establishment of a multi- and trans-disciplinary Working Group of IKS Champions from the various UKZN colleges/schools;
  • Development of a draft institutional AIKS Policy which is currently being discussed in the various UKZN colleges/schools;
  • A successful Southern African Regional Colloquium on: Methodologies andEpistemologies of Integrating IKS into Research, Teaching, Learning and Community Engagement (23 November 2012);
  • Recruitment of 6 Doctorate and 4 Masters Students with a focus on AIKS for the academic year 2013:
  1. The students are registered across the various UKZN schools;
  2. In line with the university mission and vision of promoting African scholarship their research themes range from African Indigenous Food Security, AIKS and Climate Change; Indigenous Environmental Governance; Traditional Governance and Leadership; and African Indigenous Languages;
  • Managed to bring the hub of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in IKS to UKZN. The main focus of the Centre is on Research and Postgraduate Training.
  • UKZN has secured the DST/NIKSO project on facilitating and coordinating the National Consultative Workshops on the new IKS Legislation;
  • Coordination and facilitation of Developing an African Convention on Environmental Ethics;
Project Goals and Implementation Strategies: 2012-2015
  1. Developing an AIKS-led Scholarship through designing and implementing multi- inter- and trans-disciplinary curricula to incorporate AIKS; and forging strategic partnerships with various stakeholders within and outside UKZN.
  2. Developing and promoting AIKS as a research thrust that advances African scholarship by building research ethos that acknowledges the responsibility of researchers, postgraduates and academic staff to nurture mutually beneficial relationships with AIK holders and practitioners as partners in research at all research levels; fostering collaborative partnership in AIKS based research and innovation; positioning UKZN as hub for AIKS-based research capacity; and a hub for AIKS postgraduate research and training.
  3. Promoting responsible community engagement embedded in AIKS through developing strategic partnerships with communities to tap on their expertise to be utilised in rolling out mutually beneficial AIKS programmes in research, teaching, learning and community engagement.
  4. Mainstreaming of Gender, Cultural Diversity, African languages and African Religions in AIKS by devising mechanisms to mainstream women’s robust participation and leadership in research, teaching, learning and community engagement; Establish policies and practices for recruitment, mentoring, coaching, promotion and retention of women through active participation and leadership in AIKS programmes; Establish AIKS programmes which are sensitive to cultural diversity including the rights of minority interest groups; promoting measures to foreground indigenous African languages in the core business of the institution; and establishing courses addressing the role of African religions and philosophy as a source of ethics, law, social organisation, cosmology, medicine and ethics (norms and values) in the AIKS programmes
  5. Efficient and Effective Management of AIKS through instituting collective leadership to govern AIKS development, promotion and protection foregrounded on the multicultural nature of UKZN and South Africa such as the establishment of AIKS leadership teams/champions in all UKZN schools.