Building African Science Upon Folk Traditions

Q:Must traditional folk practices in Africa be abandoned for the scientific culture to flourish? ODHIAMBO: I don’t think so. In fact, if you analyze folklore, particularly storytelling, there’s a tremendous amount of natural history in it. All one has to do is translate what is being stated into more modern language—simply make those stories current. I don’t see a conflict at all between the traditional knowledge base and the modem technology base. I think we can use th

Stephen Greene
Nov 1, 1987

Q:Must traditional folk practices in Africa be abandoned for the scientific culture to flourish?

ODHIAMBO: I don’t think so. In fact, if you analyze folklore, particularly storytelling, there’s a tremendous amount of natural history in it. All one has to do is translate what is being stated into more modern language—simply make those stories current. I don’t see a conflict at all between the traditional knowledge base and the modem technology base. I think we can use those stories as a base.

Q: Would that also apply to folk customs having to do with traditional agriculture, for example, and traditional ways of life?

ODHIAMBO: I think the approach ought to be, Let’s understand what is the basis for these practices. Obviously a lot of it may be found wanting in terms of modern knowledge. But a great deal of it gives us lessons on how people have survived over...

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