Friday, October 15, 2010

Market place Market place - Knowledge embedded in traditional foods of Africa

Indigenous knowledge can be defined as the knowledge that is associated with the original inhabitants of a particular area. This definition however, limits the sharing of knowledge but when this is referred to as local content, this broadens the scope of what people can share within a locality. Under this broader concept people can share knowledge while research may focus on a particular category or type of Indigenous Knowledge (IK), any IK under investigation must be viewed in terms of the overall cultural context. IK is embedded in a dynamic system in which spirituality, kinship, local politics and other factors are tied together and influence one another. For this particular food fair our emphasis is going to be on sharing the indigenous/local content embedded in African food.

It is generally the women of Sub-Saharan Africa who do most of the work related to food. This includes work on the plantations such as planting, weeding, harvesting, as well cooking and serving the food. The African kitchen is traditionally outside or in a separate building apart from the sleeping and living quarters. By far the most traditional and to this day the most common sight in an African kitchen is a large swing black pots filled with meat, vegetables, and spices simmering over a fire. The pot usually sits on three stones arranged in a triangle, and the fire slowly consumes three pieces of wood that meet at a point under the pot.

Food fairs have significantly gained in importance in Zimbabwe. Over the years people seems to have lost knowledge about the diversity of available foods. And to recover and spread this knowledge is exactly the objective of food fairs. The idea of food fairs has been also identified now as a platform of sharing indigenous knowledge embedded in food of Africa. Food fairs are not a new concept; they have been used since time immemorial to share food recipes by women in clubs. This concept has now been put at another level as an awareness raising method on the different types of foods that people can eat for nutrition and also dietary diversification. All this came in the light of HIV and AIDS. Food encouraged to be consumed by infected people was mainly western and this was not readily available in the rural areas where most of the population resides. Consumption of local/ traditional foods had positive results as many people saw this as welcome move to utilizing available resources.

In Zimbabwe there is a network that has selected such foods and are already trying to put things together for this theme. There will be food displayed and also videos of people talking about the knowledge embedded in the food. We are calling upon other countries to come with their traditional foods and share the knowledge.

Due to the travelling and nature of the foods to be displayed, there will be limited cooked food but what will be there is for sale.

Most of the food and knowledge shared will be in form of pictures, video clips and posters. we will also be documenting information that will be shared by different participants. we would like to come up with a booklet on the knowledge embedded in African foods and some of the challenges that women face as the custodians of this knowledge in sharing the information to there women.


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