Galaxy Forum Africa 11 - MedupePresentation Transcript
African Indigenous Astronomy for teachers By Assoc Prof Thebe Medupe Department of Physics, North West University, Mahikeng
Why study Indigenous Science
Elements of indigenous Astronomy
Why study IKS
When you teach children they do come with “blank” minds
- their world-view is informed by what they see around them, which includes IKS
Most of what they see is still presented from Western perspective (though not as bad as in the past during Apartheid).
-> alienation from science or confusion
Why IKS …
- problem is: how do you teach science in that environment?
How do you tell someone who respects his/her culture and its knowledge system that they should embrace science? Do you say, your parents are wrong about lightning, about the sun, the moon?
Or do you look at aspects of knowledge that do not seem to contradict science, and use these to bring science to the child?
Examples of How to bring student’s IKS close to science
Farmers had lunar calendars
- A month worked out as the No. of days between successive full moons
I.e 30 days long
- a year was 29.5 x 12 =354 days long
11 days missing each year
33 days missing after 3 years
- Hence 13th month after every 3 years
Dogons subdivided their month into weeks - 5 days long
Each day was named after a market place
“How do you know the earth revolves”
Nabta Stones Solar Circle Stellar Alignments
Hunter and his wives
What about “sophisticated science”
We now know that African people were recording celestial events:
“ In the year 991  in God’s month of Rajab the Goodly [August 1583] after half the night had passed, stars flew around the sky as if fire had been kindled in the whole sky – east, west, north and south. It became a mighty flame lighting up the earth, and people were extremely disturbed about that. It continued until after dawn. Recorded by the humble servant of his Lord, Alfafi Kati Mahmud … ’’
Africans too knew about models of the universe
“ He said that the orbits that God created in Heavens are nine orbits. Seven of them bear the planets. The eighth bears some other stars. The ninth is void of planets. The illustration of that is; the moon is in the orbit next to us. There is no other planet next to us if not the moon, except those stars that are said to be destined to hurl the Satan with.”
“ The next one is bigger it contains Mercury. He hinted here that orbit is bigger than the one below it and smaller than the planet above it. The third orbit bears Venus. The fourth bears the Sun. the fifth bears Mars. The sixth bears Jupiter. The seventh bears Saturn. The eighth bears other planets rather than these ones. The ninth is void of planets.”
Models of solar system
“ This means that there is no planet there but the eight planets share it. Every one of them rotates round it once every day and night with the might of God. The orbit is where a planet makes a round voyage. God said every one of them swims in an orbit. We are in its center.”
Some of the resources
Some of the resources
SAAO library can assist with more publications (more technical)
We need more resources!
Everyone everywhere on earth has been fascinated by the night sky.
There is some good resources of introducing IKS in a classroom in such a way that it benefits science learning, I have demonstrated with a few examples
Somebody needs to get all of this information and make it accessible throughout the country.