Author:Yusuf, Tunde Idris


Indigenous knowledge is home-grown knowledge that enables communities to make sense of who they are and to interact with their environment in ways that sustain life. It is knowledge that arises from life experience and which is passed down from generation to generation through words of mouth in the form of folklore, idioms, proverbs, songs, rite of passage and rituals. It equally covers the broad spectrum of life and therefore there are different types of indigenous knowledge ranging from people's beliefs, medicine, arts and craft etc.

Local and indigenous knowledge refers to the understanding, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings for rural and indigenous peoples, local knowledge inform decision making about fundamental aspect of day-to-day life. This knowledge is integral to a cultural complex that also encompasses language, (UNESCO, 2005).

Indigenous knowledge is based on, and is deeply embedded in local experience and historic reality and is therefore unique to that specific culture; it also plays an important role in defining the identity of the community. It therefore represents all the skills and innovation of a people and embodies the collective wisdom and resourcefulness of the community (UNEP)


Indigenous knowledge is still among indigenous (local) communities in many part of Africa. This knowledge has made it possible for the indigenous communities to live in harmony with their environment for generation on how to sustainable utilize their natural resources using a variety of innovation to deal with environmental conservation and natural management. This knowledge, in line with African tradition has been handed down orally from generation to generation.

Documented literature on IK is limited in Africa. This knowledge is usually passed from generation to generation through traditional socialization processes by elders of indigenous communities. The reliability of this mode of information transfer is under threat in these modern times mainly due to the influx of western culture, high levels of intention between different communities, as well as the passing on of the custodians of this knowledge. (UNEP)


Indigenous knowledge (IK) can be defined as a body of knowledge belonging to communities or ethnic groups, shaped by their culture, traditions and way of life. The term sometimes used interchangeably with traditional knowledge. Knowledge in general is described as being explicit and tacit, it is mainly tacit as it resides in people's heads and has for the most past not been codified. Indigenous knowledge has a number of unique characteristics:

i. An individual does not own indigenous knowledge because it is a product of the culture, tradition and way of life of a community. It is thus community owned

ii. It is usually passed orally from generation to generation; it is not codified or documented anywhere except in the minds of the community and the community's knowledge custodians, such as chiefs, traditional doctors etc.

iii. It has a potential to provide (and has done in many cases) economic returns either to the community that owns it, or to the individuals who may have taken it away.

Indigenous knowledge is sometimes referred to as traditional or local knowledge and it refer to the long--standing traditions and practice of certain regional, indigenous or local communities. Indigenous knowledge also encompasses the wisdom, knowledge, values, norms and teachings of these communities. In most cases, indigenous knowledge has been orally passed from generation from one person to another. (Rousel, 2003).

At present, indigenous knowledge is seen as a pivotal in discussion on sustainable resources used and balanced development (Moahi, 2004). In the 50's and 60's, theorists of development saw indigenous knowledge as inefficient, inferior and an obstacle to development. However, in current development discourse, formulations about indigenous knowledge recognize the derogatory characterization of the knowledge of the poor and marginalized populations may be hasty and naive. In contrast to modernization theorist, advocates of indigenous knowledge underscores the promise it holds for sustainable development (Roussel, 2003).

Ifa as an indigenous knowledge refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus. Yoruba religion identifies Orunmila as the grand Priest; as that which revealed oracle divinity to the world. Such is his association with the oracle divinity: in some instances, the term "Orunmila" is used interchangeably with Ifa.

The Ifa literary corpus called ODU consists of 256 parts, which are subdivided into verse called ESE, whose exact number is unknown as it is in constant growth (there are around 800 ESE per ODU). The ESE is considered the most important part of Ifa divination and are chanted by the priest in poetic language. The ESE reflects Yoruba history, language, beliefs, Cosmo-vision and contemporary social issues (UNESCO, 2005).

Believers deem Ifa as being nothing but the "truth", functioning to the devoted as not only a system of guidance but one that fuses way of living with the psychological, providing them with a legitimate course of action that is genuine and unequivocal.

Egungun is a part of the Yoruba pantheon of divinities. In the indigenous religious system of the West African tribe of that name, the spirit is of central importance. It is the eventual end of all living beings and as such is regarded as the ancestral "collective". Among the Yoruba, the annual ceremonies in honour of the dead serve as a means of assuring their ancestors a place among the living. The egungun is celebrated in festivals, known as Odun Egungun and in family ritual through the masquerade custom.


Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is a body of knowledge belonging to communities or ethnic groups, shaped by their culture, tradition, value, norms and way of life. Ifa and Egungun are traditional knowledge or sometimes referred to as Local Knowledge that encompasses every culture and tradition in most of the South West zone. Its management now becomes necessary in order to house the existing knowledge of their fore-fathers. It is a kind of knowledge that has been passed orally from one generation to another (Roussel, 2003).

This has hampered the management of indigenous knowledge (ifa and egungun) in south west of Nigeria in order to have effective management and proper documentation of the Ifa and egungun festival and how it can assist in generating archival records, store of indigenous records so that the survival of indigenous records can be achieved.


The objectives of this study is to investigate the management of indigenous knowledge (ifa and egungun) in south west of Nigeria and show its relevance to National development and also to find out the festivity of the indigenous knowledge under study. The study set to achieve the following objectives. They are:

i. To trace the origin of Ifa and Egungun

ii. To determine the relevance of both Ifa and Egungun in the community they are practiced

iii. To also determine the benefits derived in its divination

iv. To...

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