GMRDC Workshop Unpacks the Indigenous Knowledge Act

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On 31st October the University of Fort Hare, through the Govani Mbeki Research and Development Centre’s (GMRDC) Innovation Office hosted an Indigenous Knowledge Workshop at the Alice Campus. Themed ‘Bringing Ideas To Life’, the workshop sought to unpack the Indigenous Knowledge Act which was signed into effect by the president in August 2019. “We feel that word is not there to promote and protect indigenous knowledge”, said Mrs Shumi Pango, a Fort Hare alumnus and renowned policy maker with the Department of Science and Innovation.

“There is need to acknowledge sources of knowledge so that societies are uplifted”, she added.

Mrs Pango went on to say Intellectual property is any creation of the mind that manifests itself in a product and indigenous knowledge has produced a lot that we use today. Sadly, before the Indigenous Knowledge Act was promulgated, these products were not protected. However, with the Act now in effect, that problem has been solved. She encouraged individuals and communities to register their intellectual property as provided for by the act so that they benefit from it.

To an attentive audience consisting mainly of postgraduate students and academics from all faculties and departments of the university, Mrs Pango explained the Act to everyone’s understanding. She highlighted that the Act addresses many issues including bio-piracy, community benefit sharing, facilitates research and development as well as provides dispute resolution on any matters that may arise.

After Mrs Pango’s eye opening presentation, a question and answer session followed. This provided for a rich and robust engagement from students and academics whose questions were answered to satisfaction. The university community showed its commitment and willingness to abide by the act.