A panel of three experts from universities in Botswana and South Africa took the audience through insightful presentations focusing on the various ways in which Africa continues to be marginalised. These experts were speaking as part of the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) Africa Day webinar.
Dr Xolile Mkhize, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Community Extension at MUT; Professor Jane Iloanya from the Department of Education and Language Skills at Botho University in Botswana; and Dr Godson Gatsha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Services at Botswana Open Air University and Research Fellow at Unisa; shared thought-provoking presentations on the nutritional value of indigenous foods, infusing African principles in teacher education, and marginalisation of indigenous peoples of Africa.
For Dr Mkhize, the focus was on nutrition and the marginalisation of indigenous food. Her presentation came just a week after the United Nations highlighted food insecurity as a problem that Africa and other parts of the world continue to contend with.
“The availability and diversity of indigenous foods can address some of the challenges of food insecurity in Africa,” Dr Mkhize said.
Dr Mkhize noted that indigenous African foods were not popular despite their nutritional benefits. Some of the benefits of these foods include medicinal and anti-ageing properties. She explained that the packaging of these foods was also not as sophisticated.
Dr Mkhize said that indigenous foods were marginalised through four systemic factors, which are colonialism, globalisation, urbanisation and socio-economic status. She explained that it was not too late to reclaim indigenous foods.
“Behavioural shift is required if we are to reclaim our indigenous foods,” said Dr Mkhize as she concluded her presentation.
Professor Iloanya’s presentation focused on teacher education as key in efforts to reclaim our Africanness. Paying attention to teachers, she explained, created an opportunity to promote African ideals in their teaching. This, she explained, would be possible because teachers were the implementers of the curriculum.
Professor Iloanya reminded the audience that African principles were just as important as the Western alternatives and education should reflect both.
“I simply do not want to forget or neglect my roots,” said Professor Iloanya. “All must co-exist.”
Dr Gatsha, who kicked off the webinar, took the audience through a presentation which drew continuities between colonial and post-colonial marginalisation of various indigenous people across the continent.
“Given the suffering of marginalised peoples of Africa across the continent, the marginalised indigenous people are still downtrodden,” said Dr Gatsha. “The agenda has not changed.”