Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems



As an instrument of implementing the National IKS Policy (2004), the CIKS endeavours to create a paradigm shift in knowledge production (research), by promoting indigenous ways of knowing (epistemology), value systems and participatory approaches in IKS research methodology and process.  In this effort, the CIKS has established a number of multi-and transdisciplinary national and international Flagship Research Platforms involving IKS researchers and postgraduate students across disciplines and community knowledge holders from across communities of competencies. This has enabled CIKS to promote IKS research beyond the Humanities to include researchers and postgraduate students from Natural, Applied and Health Sciences.


IKS-Based Climate Information Service and Knowledge Management

A research platform for interfacing conventional weather and IKS-based climate (change) information services which are culturally, ecologically and linguistically specific.  Making conventional weather information services more culturally and ecologically relevant and accessible to local communities.

IKS-Based Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (SRH)

An international research instrument for coordinating research, innovation and community engagement on IKS-based Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare.  A platform for sharing IKS-based SRH knowledge, experiences and networks among SRH researchers and IK holders and practitioners.

IKS-Based Mental Healthcare

A research network for sharing comparative cross-cultural knowledge, experiences and resources on mental healthcare.  Building a global society recognizing the impact of culture, language, environment, bioethics, politics, economics and technology on mental healthcare.

Cultural Heritage and Natural Resource Conservation

An instrument for facilitating community participation in contemporary natural resource conservation through indigenous ecological knowledge systems.  Increased and improved local community participation in natural resource management and associated conflicts.

Education & Training

IKS is a new area of enquiry in terms of research and human capital development.  In order to meet the challenge of building a critical mass of IKS human capital, the CIKS has facilitated the establishment of IKS teaching programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, within its partner and collaborative institutions.  The objective is to build a critical mass of human capital conversant with IKS epistemologies, research methodologies and value systems.  For instance, the North West University has established 4 year Bachelor (IKS) and 2 year Masters (IKS) programmes with modules which integrate both the natural and social sciences.  University of Limpopo and University of Venda have also introduced BIKS programmes. 

University of KwaZulu-Natal is introducing an IKS Honours programme as a pipeline to Masters and Doctoral programmes.  One of the challenges faced by CIKS in IKS education and training is the lack of reference material.  The CIKS has an initiative of establishing IKS Special Collections across partner and collaborating institutions, within and outside South Africa, to support IKS research, teaching, learning, knowledge brokerage and community engagement.  It is also part of CIKS contribution to the Africa Drive and contribution to the Restoration and Revival of African Dignity by Advancing the History of African Ideas.

Information Brokerage

CIKS is a strategic tool for mitigating the marginalization of IKS in the global pool of knowledge.  This enables South Africa and Africa at large, through IKS, to enter the global knowledge economy on its own terms.  It organises national and international multi-and transdisciplinary platforms for sharing IKS.  These include conferences, workshops, colloquia, symposia. It has become a one stop shop for knowledge production, innovation, human capital development, knowledge brokerage, networking and community engagement. 

BRICS Countries International Conference on Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Sustainable Food Security and Environmental Governance for Climate Change Adaptation

National Colloquium on Mother Tongue Language for Science and Technology Student Teachers

International Colloquium on Mazisi Kunene’s Contribution to African Scholarship

Benchmarking Visit by Pharm-Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine Center (PHARMBIOTRAC), Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Uganda. 

3-day workshop Intellectual Property and Indigenous Knowledge Systems Workshop

IKS Special Collections


The CIKS recognizes that its sustainability requires the building of a diversity of IKS networks and partnerships across cultures, regions, countries and disciplines.  In achieving this mandate, CIKS works with both private and public sectors from within and outside South Africa.  This also mitigates the disjuncture between academia, community, business and industry.  CIKS has expanded its national and international networks for IKS research, human capital development through conferences, workshops, colloquia, symposia; establishment of Southern African Development Community IKS Scientific Community of Practice (CoP): A strategic regional platform for IKS excellence and transformative sustainability; and the integration of IKS in local, provincial, national, regional and international policy imperatives in collaboration with multi-stakeholder partners. 

CIKS has established research and human capital development networks and partnership through signed MoUs with the following national and International institutions:

  • Sudan University of Science and Technology (Khartoum)
  • KZN Provincial Department of Social Development
  • United Nations Population Fund
  • United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation
  • National Development Agency
  • Mbarara University of Science and Technology (Uganda)
  • University of Namibia (Namibia)
  • University of Rwanda (Rwanda)
  • Moses Kotane, Institute (South Africa)
  • KZN Provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (South Africa)
  • KZN Provincial Department of Social Development (South Africa)
  • eThekwini District Municipality, KZN (South Africa)
  • Africa Programme – UN University for Peace (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Western Cape
  • South African BRICS Think Tank
  • National Institute for Humanities and Social Science
  • South African National Traditional Health Forum

Service Rendering

In order to mitigate the disjuncture between learning and living, including academia, industry, business and government community engagement is one of the core mandates of CIKS.  It is also through community engagement that CIKS promotes excellence through relevance.  This is evidenced by the inclusion of IK Holders and Practitioners as knowledge producers in all its mandated areas of knowledge production, innovation, human capital development and knowledge brokerage.  It is also through community engagement that CIKS contributes to the aspirations of the National Development Plan of building an active citizenry.

  • Documentation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Poverty Eradication in the KwaZulu-Natal Province for United Nations Population Fund and the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Provincial Department of Social Development on the (2014);
  • Assessment of Food Security and Nutrition Situation in KwaZulu-Natal Province for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and KZN Provincial Department of Social (2015);
  • Facilitation of establishment of a National IKS Forum in Rwanda in collaboration with University of Rwanda and Rwanda Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (Rwanda) (2016);
  • Development of a KwaZulu-Natal Provincial IKS Strategy – 2015-2020 and Ubuntu as Public Policy as part of the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS). A joint project with Moses Kotane Institute and KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.
  • Co-ordinating the accreditation and certification of Indigenous Knowledge Holders and Practitioners for Department of Science and Technology (DST) in partnership with South African Qualification Authority (SAQA), and National Department of Health. The focus is on developing norms and standards for the Certification and Accreditation of indigenous knowledge holders and practitioners including Recognition Of Their Prior Learning (RPL);
  • Facilitation of the formation of the African Association for the Study of IKS in collaboration with the University of Namibia;
  • 2018 Heritage Day Symposium promotes intergenerational learning at UNIVEN
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