Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mandela on the meaning of Ubuntu, and traditional knowledge

  • The Christian Science monitor has a rather nice piece on the increased respect that Australian Aboriginal traditional scientific knowledge is receiving. It starts off
    To white Australians, the flocks of red-tailed black cockatoos which flap above tree canopies are a memorable highlight of any weekend hike. But to Aborigines, the parrots are living, squawking barometers.
    "A month ago when the cockatoos were flocking and the wattle bushes were flowering, we saw that as signs of rain," says Jeremy Clark, chief executive of the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre in the Grampian Mountains of Victoria State. "Sure enough, we've just had two weeks of rain."
    and pretty much carries on in that vein throughout. What I found most interesting, though, was the following little paragraph on the division of the year:
    The Northern Hemisphere pattern of spring, summer, fall, and winter sits uncomfortably with the reality of Australia's climate. Aboriginal tribes, in contrast, recognize up to seven distinct seasons. In the Sydney region, for instance, September and October are known by Aboriginal people as Murrai'yunggoray, the time when the red waratah flower blooms.
    It is followed by Goraymurrai, a period of warm, wet weather during which Aborigines would not camp near rivers for fear of flooding.
  • Nelson Mandela on Ubuntu:

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