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How Tablets Are Preserving Indigenous Culture

A team of Danish researchers are working to help villagers in eastern Namibia preserve their cultural traditions, which are becoming more difficult to pass down in an age of urban migration. 

What’s the Latest Development?

A team of Danish researchers are using tablet computers to help the Herero people of eastern Namibia preserve their cultural traditions, which have become more difficult to pass down as a result of urban migration. By creating a virtual 3D village, researchers want to help preserve rituals like the slaughtering of a goat and lighting a sacred flame. “Other links will access more general knowledge, such as which herbs can be used to treat specific ailments, how to look after animals or how to navigate between scattered villages using the sun.”

What’s the Big Idea?

As young men leave the Herero tribe to work in urban environments, if only for a few years, the accumulated knowledge of the tribe becomes more difficult to pass on. Niall McNulty, who helps run the Ulwazi cultural preservation program in Durban, South Africa, says technology can be used to store essential indigenous knowledge. “As mobile devices become ubiquitous in Africa, the need for this type of regional and language-specific content, and the tangible link it provides between communities and their multiple pasts, becomes all the more important,” McNulty said.

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