ATTITUDES AND THE PRACTICE OF DOCUMENTATION OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE BY THE TRADITIONAL HEALTH PRACTITIONERS IN KWARA STATE, NIGERIA.

Author:Issa, A.O.
Position::Report
 
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Introduction

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary (2008) defined attitude as a hypothetical construct that requires an individual's degree of like or dislike for an item. Attitudes are generally positive or negative views of a person, place, thing, or event; Wicker (2010) identified four components that have an impact on attitude. The first is the cognitive components, which refers to the knowledge or intellectual beliefs an individual might have about an object, a person, a thing, or a situation. The second is the feel or affective component, which refers to the emotional connection with an object or a task. The third is the behavioural component, which refers to how a person acts, cognitive, affective and behavioural aspects of attitudes are interrelated. A change in one of the components will set in motion a change in one or more of the others.

Finally we have cognitive dissonance, which is the situation in which the pieces of knowledge, information, attitudes, or beliefs held by an individual are contradictory. When a person experiences cognitive dissonance, the relationship between attitudes and behaviours is altered. Vaughan and Hogg (1995) defined attitude as, 'A relatively enduring organization of beliefs, feelings and behavioural tendencies towards socially significant objects, groups, events or symbols or A general feeling or evaluation (positive/ negative) about some person, object or issue.' Critical evaluation of these definitions revealed that attitudes are positive or negative evaluations or feelings that people have towards other people, objects, issues or events include the general way people feel towards socially significant objects and most attitudes are lasting.

Ngulube, Dube and Mhlongo (2015) defined indigenous knowledge as multifaceted, dynamic, and eclectic know-how that is spiritually, culturally, economically, socially and politically embedded in a unique local geographical context. It is the body of knowledge held by people who are not regarded as developed as far as modern science and civilization is concerned (Mposhi, Manuyeruke & Hamauswa, 2013). World Health Organisation (2002) define IK as health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being. Indigenous knowledge can be expressed in the form of stories, songs, folklore, proverbs, dances, myths, cultural values, beliefs, rituals, community laws, local language and taxonomy, agricultural practices, equipment, materials, plant species and animal breeds (Ondari-Okemwa, 2014).

Indigenous knowledge (IK) of the traditional health practitioners has been playing significant roles in the primary health care in Nigeria. According to Ebijuwa (2015), several studies have affirmed that up to 80% of the world's population depends on traditional medicine for their primary health needs. Ik is the mainstay of primary healthcare for the majority of those in the rural areas in Africa (Jain, 2004; Omo, 2008; Sackey, 2008; Odukoya, 2012). Anyaoku, Nwafor-Orizu and Eneh (2015) observed that there is a general agreement on the gradual extinction of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in African communities including traditional medical knowledge, which they attributed partly to colonization that was not positively disposed to anything African and the colonisation of the minds of Africans who were made to perceive everything about them as inferior including their knowledge. IKS has been so important for the survival of the people before western civilisation; it has been widely applied in the areas of health, agriculture, ecosystem, environmental management and entertainment.

There are increasing demands and recognition of indigenous knowledge and its importance in primary health care of people in local communities, little efforts are still being made to document the knowledge by practitioners. Many of them are not positively disposed to documentation of their knowledge and they are very secretive because they want to protect the source of their livelihood. (Galabuzi, 2010). Their lack of adequate mechanism in the form of patent laws for the protection of traditional medicinal knowledge has the potential to negate uncommon herbal plants leaves and roots used by herbalist and hence negate their documentation (Kasilo, 2003). The oral mode of transmission from generation to generation makes it prone to distortion and the knowledge is in imminent danger of disappearance following that this knowledge is without written records and the old age healers are dying (Weldegerima, 2009). Some studies have been done on documentation of indigenous knowledge in Nigeria, among the recent studies is Ebijuwa, and Mabawonku, (2015), none of these studies have really investigated the attitudes of the traditional health practitioners in Nigeria to documentation of their indigenous knowledge hence this study wants to fill this gap.

Objective of the Study

The objectives of this study are to:

  1. investigate the attitudes of traditional health practitioners to documentation of indigenous knowledge in Kwara-State, Nigeria

  2. examine the practice of documentation of IK by the traditional health practitioners in Kwara State, Nigeria

  3. find out the challenges confronting traditional health practitioners in documentation of IK

    Research question

  4. What are the attitudes of traditional health practitioners to documentation of indigenous knowledge in Southwest, Nigeria?

  5. What is the practice of documentation of IK by traditional health practitioners in Kwara State, Nigeria?

  6. What are the challenges facing traditional health practitioners in Kwara State in documentation of IK?

    Research Hypothesis

    The null hypothesis is tested at 0.05 level of significance.

    There is no significant relationship between attitude and documentation of IK by the traditional health practitioners.

    Review of Related Literature

    Attitudes to documentation of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) are the positive or negative feeling and dispositions of the traditional health practitioners(THP) to recording their knowledge of traditional health care either in a written, audio, video, database and any other means. Traditional health practitioners are usually farmers, hunters, fishermen and timber workers predominantly males usually above 50 years of age. Transfer of knowledge and skills of the practice are mainly through family inheritance, only very few practitioners developed their skills through apprenticeship. Most of the THPs lack formal education or partially educated but in recent times, some educated persons are developing interest in the profession (Ibrahim, Muazzam, Jegede, Kunle and Okogun, 2007).

    The oral nature together with the oral mode of transmission of IK is one of the reasons why some of the practitioners are still showing negative attitudes towards documentation of their knowledge. Some THPs when they document their knowledge, still deliberately skip out some things because of their belief that the knowledge should be preserved in the memories of elders and thus gradually disappearing due to memory lapses and death (Lwoga, Ngulube, & Stilwell, 2010). The knowledge in some cases belongs to individual, family and entire community. It is believed that when such is documented, they have lost their individual, family or community heritage thereby making them to be secretive about their IK. Some traditional healers will not even divulge their IK on healing to outsiders and even to some members of their family most especially their daughters to prevent their knowledge from being transmitted to other families after marriage (Tabuti & Damme, 2012).

    IK holders may be because they have experienced the pain of losing valuable knowledge inherited from their fore fathers are now clamouring for establishment of databases to document their IK (World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education, 1999). In Australia, some aboriginal communities have expressed the view that one of the main reasons for their support of a database is to ensure the transmission of their knowledge to future generations. As elders pass away and the younger generations lack an interest in learning and transmitting IK, databases are viewed as a tool that could be used to perpetuate their ancestors' knowledge (Christie, 2004). Some indigenous women have called upon the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Spain to provide adequate...

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