Top > African Study Monographs > ASM Back Number > Vol.34(2013) No.3
Vol.34 (2013) No.3
pp. 139–142

Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

Introduction to the Special Issue “Vitalizing indigenous knowledge in Africa”

PDF file of body text (122 KB)

pp. 143–159

The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University

Constructing AFlora: A Database of Plant Use in Africa


The AFlora (an abbreviation for “African Flora”) project, “A study on the traditional use of plants in Africa,” has been operated by the Center for African Area Studies at Kyoto University since late 1980s. This project has involved many researchers interested in the ethnobotany of tropical Africa. It aims to accumulate the ethnobotanical knowledge on plant use and nomenclature collected by field researchers working in Africa to provide an effective information-retrieval system. Since 1997, the AFlora database has been available to the public as a web-based database. In 2012, the system was updated, and it now relies on the most recent web technology. It currently contains more than 6,000 records. In this paper, I describe the structure, mode of operation, and benefits offered by this database. I also discuss issues related to the intellectual property rights with respect to ethnobotanical knowledge, which have become serious considerations in recent decades. Means of sharing scientific information are also addressed.

Key Words: AFlora; Plant use; Ethnobotany; Web database; Intellectual property rights.

PDF file of body text (1.55 MB)

pp. 161–173,

Herman M. BATIBO
Department of African Languages and Literature, University of Botswana

Preserving and transmitting indigenous knowledge in diminishing bio-cultural environment: Case studies from Botswana and Tanzania


The rapid bio-diversity loss due to the effects of urbanization, socio-economic demands, change in life style, technological advancement and globalization has resulted in the depletion of the ecosystem. At the same time, the younger generations are no longer acquiring knowledge in their indigenous environment, partly because of the new lifestyle of going to school instead of going hunting or herding, and partly because the fauna and flora is being destroyed and therefore no longer available for the children who are born and raised in villages. This has resulted in them not being able to acquire the relevant knowledge and skills when they become adults. This paper highlights the problem of indigenous knowledge transmission and preservation by describing case studies from Tanzania and Botswana. It then reflects on the known patterns of identity loss in societies. Finally it discusses the several measures that are being carried out to deal with the problems of bio-diversity loss in Africa.

Key Words: Indigenous knowledge; Preserving; Transmitting; Identity loss; Bio-cultural diversity.

PDF file of body text (193 KB)

pp. 175–183

Shigeki KAJI
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University
Member of the Royal Academy for Oversee Sciences of Belgium

Multi-language Use and Lingua Franca Use: Two Strategies for Coping with Multilingualism in Africa


Due to the fact that most languages are spoken by relatively small populations in Africa, a number of languages which exit are spoken side by side in any given area. It is true that lingua francas have developed in many parts of Africa to cope with this multi-lingual situation. And lingua franca use has been the subject of many of the discussions of multilingualism in Africa. But we have not fully considered other strategies to control multilingualism, particularly multi-language use, i.e. speaking multiple languages. In fact, there are areas in Africa where lingua francas have not developed or are underdeveloped, and people are obliged to speak many languages to cope with the multi-lingual situation of the area. This paper tries to balance the discussion of multilingualism in Africa, by considering multi-language use, as exemplified by Kaji (2013). It is noteworthy that successful communication among people of different linguistic backgrounds is guaranteed only when a monolingual state, realized by either lingua franca use or multi-language use, prevails in the area.

Key Words: Multilingualism; Monolingualism; Lingua franca; Sociolinguistics in Africa; Uganda; Nyoro.

PDF file of body text (535 KB)