Indigenous knowledge is imperative

April 29, 2015, 10:03am

Indigenous knowledge is imperative

There is a great need to protect traditional knowledge in order to curb the exploitation of holders of indigenous knowledge, particularly the elderly.

It has been observed that the elderly have indigenous knowledge but their wisdom is being stolen from them and used for commercial purposes while they languish in poverty.

The chairperson of the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA), Dagmar Honsbein, expressed these sentiments when she visited Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu.

Her visit was prior to celebrations to mark the World Intellectual Property Day in Katima Mulilo, as part of a delegation that accompanied the Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), Tjekero Tweya.
According Honsbein, a great risk exists that if such wisdom is not protected, others may claim its ownership.

“We have local plants, traditional medicines and recipes. We need to look at protecting them. There is a risk that if we don’t protect them, others will come and see them as their own. We need to put trademarks,” stated Honsbein.
She further noted that products or knowledge requiring protection should be identified and those behind such knowledge should be recognised as the rightful owners through legislation.

“It takes some time to register and protect such knowledge but the sooner we do it the better. We need to identify what needs to be protected and find the people with the knowledge and give them something as the rightful owners. By protecting, we start adding value to our products,” he said.

The CEO of BIPA, Andima Tileinge, echoed similar sentiments noting that workshops are being conducted across regions to sensitise people at grassroots level about intellectual property.
“We have seen how our people are being exploited by people, who extract knowledge from them. We have conducted workshops across the region to sensitise the various stakeholders on the importance of intellectual property. Government has also ratified a law on intellectual property, we are only left with domesticating that law,” said Tileinge

At the meeting, the regional council also voiced its concerns to Tweya through their Chairperson Raphael Mbala.
Among a host of concerns were network reception problems and weak TV and radio signals in some areas within the Zambezi Region.

“Areas like Chetto and Itomba have no network towers and no communication at all. Other areas like Mubiza, Impalila and Kapani have very weak signals. Chetto has no TV and radio reception and also Singalamwe. This is very risky, as no communication exists. We asked for coverage since 2011 but nothing has happened,” complained Mbala.
Mbala also complained of Telecom lines, saying, “They are off all the time. We have towers for MTC but foreign networks are interfering all the time. One wonders what is the problem with our system.”

Minister Tweya promised to resolve the concerns with the relevant authorities, saying a harmonisation of activities was imperative. “NBC, Telecom and MTC should harmonise their activities so that all Namibians are covered. Many Namibians want to see what councillors are doing. There are a lot of doubting Thomasses out there, let them see,” said Tweya.

By Staff Reporter: New Era