Elimu Asilia’s historical basis is that African knowledge and cultures were preserved and transmitted orally. They did not record events and accounts in writing. Indigenous stories and information are inadequate, and not easily accessible through print and digital media. Hence, Kenyan Libraries have inadequate local IK content to contribute to the global knowledge economy. Recorded information in various accessible media is important to contribute and stamp our global presence. A part from inaccessibility, local content on the web is also low because of limited capacity to record, transfer and disseminate the information. Given this challenge, the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) as the premier heritage institution in Kenya and its partners, established Elimu Asilia to bridge the knowledge gap.
The Western Kenya Workshop
During the inauguration workshop of Elimu Asilia at Corat, Africa in June 2012, a gap in the documentation of IK among some Kenyan linguistic groups was identified. Among the groups identified were Suba and Kuria. Two one-day workshops were held in two locations (Mbita for the Suba and Migori for the Kuria) to document Indigenous Knowledge and introduce Elimu Asilia to Western Kenya, particularly Suba and Kuria in Western region. In Mbita, five Suba elders and a community link person (also administrator of Suba Peace Museum) attended the workshop to document IK of the Suba. In Migori, five Kuria elders and one elder from community (who introduced Elimu Asilia team to the Kuria elders) attended the workshop to document IK of the Kuria. The Elimu Asilia team from NMK comprised of One Librarian, four researchers and an Audio Visual person (representing IT staff). A representative from Goethe-Institut also attended the Migori workshop.
The aim of Elimu Asilia in reaching out to minority communities in Western Kenya region was first to: raise awareness and promote appreciation of indigenous knowledge covering all aspects of culture, environment, health and history. Secondly is to enhance participatory acquisition, preservation and availability of indigenous knowledge on culture, environment, health and history. Thirdly, is to enhance access to and use of indigenous knowledge in digital format and exhibition. And lastly, to enhance western Kenya tourism circuit by highlighting communities in Homa Bay and Migori Counties
The objectives of the workshops were to:
• Introduce Elimu Asilia to the Suba (Abasuba) and the Kuria (Abakuria)
• Capture and collect community memory through community participation using focus group interviews
• Process the knowledge and make it available digitally online through the museum libraries and websites and
• Increase community IK full presence on-line and community exposure to the online tools for creating and retrieving their own knowledge
The team held two focus group interviews and discussions with the communities. The photos including documents were identified, verified, collected, documented and scanned. Data was also collected through photography, videography, flip chart and notebooks. The communities promised to send more photos, old books and are still in communication.
Output of the Western Kenya workshops (Suba and Kuria)
1. Workshop to introduce Elimu Asilia concept to Western region
2. Collected pictorial and text data for Suba and Kuria on culture, environment, health and history using a participatory approach with the two communities
3. The collected photos and documents have been digitally preserved in readiness for access
4. The online traffic to Elimu Asilia website has increased as displayed from the online visitors counter. This will translate into an increase in virtual and actual Western Kenya tourism, particularly towards Homa Bay and Migori.
Focus Group Discussion withKuria Elders in Migori
We acknowledge Goethe-Institut Kenya for the financial support to document Indigenous Knowledge and introduce Elimu Asilia) to Western Kenya, particularly Suba and Kuria. The Suba and Kuria communities for the information they gave. Elimu Asilia is also grateful to the Suba Peace Museum for providing a link to the communities. The Director General, National Museums of Kenya for the continued support and guidance to Elimu Asilia