Archaeological and other historical testimonies cross the continent indicate that Africa has a history of socio-economic, political, scientific and technological ideas and institutions (Owusu-Ansah and Mji, 2013; Bargblor, 2003; Asante, 1990; Derricourt, 2011). These African indigenous ways of knowing, knowledge production, and the value systems were built on the symbiotic interaction between humans and their natural and spiritual environment. They were shared within and across generations through lived experience, indigenous languages and home-grown philosophies.

Colonialism and other forms of imperialism disrupted and destroyed their development. The marginalization of African indigenous cultures went hand in hand with that of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS). Historically, Africa has been the only place in the world where formal education systems impart knowledge and values in foreign languages, development strategies and ideologies are based on foreign ideologies. This conditioned Africans to look to the West for resolutions to local problems on democracy, governance, leadership and human rights; health, food and nutritional security; natural resource management and climate change; peace-building and conflict transformation.

The growing knowledge and awareness on the history of African ideas and resources, provides sufficient evidence that Africa has the potential to restore and revive its historical legacy and dignity as the cradle of humankind. Africa has over 60% of the world’s arable land and mineral resources necessary for the sustenance of the 4th Industrial Revolution and transformative social policy development (Ezeanya-Esiobu, 2017). Existing research also shows that there is still limited comparative research, platforms and institutions to enable the African indigenous communities to share their knowledge and experiences on global challenges on their own terms, in areas of healthcare, food and nutritional security, environmental governance for climate change adaptation, peace-building and conflict transformation in the global pool of knowledge (Kaya and Seleti, 2013). This is compounded by the dominance of western regimes such as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), which undermines the role of IK holders, practitioners as custodians of the IKS and their interface with other knowledge and technology systems to mitigate the impact of global challenges.

African governments are increasingly domesticating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and social policies based on local communities’ existing knowledge systems, including philosophies, values and indigenous languages. Example is given of Rwanda where the leadership, through home grown philosophies, indigenous language and social policies, has made a choice of investing highly in human capital development and domestication of SDGs.


This is in line with the seven aspirations of African Union (AU) Agenda 2063: