Indigenous medicinal knowledge of the San people: the case of Farm Six, Northern Namibia

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The San are among the most marginalized people in Namibia. The San have often relied on indigenous knowledge for survival, particularly since access to resources has proved to be difficult. This study explores the use of indigenous knowledge by a particular San community living on Farm Six, located in the Mangetti West area north of Tsumeb. In particular, the study focuses on the use of indigenous knowledge with regard to traditional medicine. Apart from  considerations of the commercial and legal issues concerning the exploitation of the devil's claw and Hoodia plant, little has been published about the medicinal properties of San remedies. The findings indicate that the community relies on indigenous knowledge as their main means of treating most illnesses. While the community believes traditional remedies are effective in treating several conditions, they have also turned to herbal treatments because of a lack of access to modern health care: the nearest clinic is over 50 km away, transport is scarce, and a Ministry of Health and Social Services outreach team has not visited the camp for over 2 years. However, it was impossible to establish the medical efficacy of most of these remedies as their properties and effects have not been studied in detail. Keywords: San people, indigenous knowledge, traditional medicinal knowledge, indigenous knowledge transfer, Namibia.

Publication Title:

Information Development

Item Type:
Journal Article

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