African indigenous astronomy of Batswana in Botswana and South Africa
Koitsiwe, Motheo T.
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Although astronomy is the oldest of all the sciences, African indigenous astronomy, especially of the Batswana has to date not received the attention it deserves from scholars and researchers. Nonetheless, there is scattered, disconnected documentation of aspects of this knowledge studied by scholars in a variety of disciplines. This study followed a case study approach to investigate African indigenous astronomy of Batswana in Botswana and South Africa. The research report in this thesis has focused on the African indigenous astronomy of Bakgatla -Baa- Kgafela in Mochudi (Botswana) and Moruleng (South Africa). The Bakgatla -Baa- Kgafela were chosen for this study due to fact that they share the same history, culture, tradition, totem and philosophy. However, due to historical and political developments they were separated by artificial borders, hence some are found in Botswana while others are in South Africa. The study followed a qualitative approach and indigenous knowledge paradigm. The Afrocentric, phenomenography and appreciative enquiry theories were used as appropriate and relevant frameworks which underpinned this study. Research data was gathered from "baitseanape ba kitso ya tlhago ' or the IK experts by means of in-depth interviews, focus group discussions (using Lekgotla or indigenous talking circle strategy), narratives and document analysis. The data collected from the participants was analysed thematically. The findings of the study revealed that, generally, the Bakgatla -Baa- Kgafela generally are rich with indigenous knowledge of the stars, moon and other constellations. This knowledge was used in agriculture, reproductive health, time calculation, calendar making, rainmaking and thanksgiving ceremonies and natural disaster management. Furthermore, oral traditions such as songs and poems were used as vehicles to transmit knowledge of indigenous astronomy using their local language to the young generations. The elders were and are the sources, custodians of this knowledge and used stories and mythology to teach the young about indigenous astronomy. The evidence and examples provided in this study can be used to demonstrate that indigenous astronomy is relevant in modern times and can be interfaced with modern astronomy. Indigenous astronomy is not just in the minds of the elders, it is often hidden and expressed in the arts such as pottery making and architecture. Bakgatla used to make pottery and build traditional homestead with decorations of celestial bodies. However, this art is also fading away due to the fact that there are few elders in the community who possess this skills. Within the study communities, there are heritage sites which have astronomical significance and needs to be restored and preserved. Astronomical heritage is also one of the themes which emerged in this research. In summation, the domination of Western knowledge marginalised the role of indigenous astronomy in the community. Despite this marginalisation, the Bakgatla -Baa- Kgafela in Mochudi and Moruleng, like other African tribal groups in South Africa preserved this knowledge and used it for their community's livelihood. Community members in the research were given the opportunity to express their knowledge of indigenous astronomy in their own Setswana language. It is on the basis of the above findings that the following recommendations were made for the study: African indigenous astronomy is an interesting field which needs to be adequately documented, developed and promoted; African indigenous astronomy is part of indigenous knowledge systems was subjected to Western research methodologies and methods; there is a need to develop a critical mass of African indigenous researchers and scientists to conduct holistic indigenous research on African indigenous astronomy, building collaboration, partnerships and networks among relevant stakeholders is critical and finally the co-existence of African indigenous and modern astronomy should be encouraged.
- Humanities