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Knowledge Sovereignty among African Cattle Herders

Knowledge Sovereignty among African Cattle Herders

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Knowledge Sovereignty among African Cattle Herders

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384 pages
7 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Jun 20, 2018
ISBN:
9781787353145
Format:
Livre

Description

Beni-Amer cattle owners in the western part of the Horn of Africa are not only masters in cattle breeding, they are also knowledge sovereign, in terms of owning productive genes of cattle and the cognitive knowledge base crucial to sustainable development. The strong bonds between the Beni-Amer, their animals, and their environment constitute the basis of their ways of knowing, and much of their knowledge system is built on experience and embedded in their cultural practices.

In this book, the first to study Beni-Amer practices, Zeremariam Fre argues for the importance of their knowledge, challenging the preconceptions that regard it as untrustworthy when compared to scientific knowledge from more developed regions. Empirical evidence suggests that there is much one could learn from the other, since elements of pastoralist technology, such as those related to animal production and husbandry, make a direct contribution to our knowledge of livestock production. It is this potential for hybridization, as well as the resilience of the herders, at the core of the indigenous knowledge system.

Fre also argues that indigenous knowledge can be viewed as a stand-alone science, and that a community’s rights over ownership should be defended by government officials, development planners and policy makers, making the case for a celebration of the knowledge sovereignty of pastoralist communities

Praise for Knowledge Sovereignty Among African Cattle Herders

‘This book greatly contributes to the limited literature on theoretical discourses and practices on indigenous knowledge of livestock herding communities in the Horn of Africa. It discusses knowledge heritage and sovereignty through the presentation of valid empirical evidence, and its subsequent relevance in nurturing sustainability of knowledge systems to enhance lives of pastoralists in Africa and beyond.’
Samuel Tefera PhD, Assistant Professor and Asian Desk Coordinator at the Centre for African and Oriental Studies, Associate Dean for Research and Technology Transfer, College of Social Sciences, Addis Ababa University

‘The author has worked with our Beni-Amer pastoral communities in Eastern Sudan and Western Eritrea for over 30 years and this book is the first of its kind in documenting our practices, knowledge systems, heritage and way of life.’
Mustafa Faid and Mohamed Ali, Leaders of the of the Pastoral and Environmental Association Kassala State (PEAKS)

‘A riveting and rare book! Zeremarian Fre guides you along the sandy [dusty] tracks and grassy pastures that the Beni-Amer and their herds have been softly tracing over time all through the Horn of Africa. One of the virtues of the book is that it illustrates vividly and in clear language how their continuous self-built endogenous knowledge on agro-pastoral life is not only at the core of their survival and the survival of their herds, but more importantly a powerful weapon in facing and resisting multiple aggressions . . . Ground-breaking and a huge achievement.’
Yves Cabannes, Emeritus Professor of Development Planning,, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL

‘The book underlines the importance of enriching and utilizing the unrecognized, yet valuable scientific knowledge and practices that are deeply rooted in pastoral traditional expertise about their own environment and breeding practices. It is an important publication that reflects Dr Fre’s expertise and long term research in the region and thus, it is a significant addition to the African library.’
Hala Alkarib, Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)

‘This fascinating book not only gives a unique insight into the knowledge and practice of pastoralists in the Horn of Africa from the author’s first-hand experience, it also provides an incisive critique of the multiple dimensions of knowledge, paying tribute to the sovereignty of indigenous knowledge. It

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Jun 20, 2018
ISBN:
9781787353145
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Zeremariam Fre is the founding director and former head of regional NGO, the Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA). He currently works at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit at UCL as a teaching fellow and course tutor. His research and teaching are inspired by his work experience in development planning, dry land agriculture, land use policy, food security, peri-urban agriculture, indigenous knowledge systems, the role of women in food production, NGOs and social movements.

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Knowledge Sovereignty among African Cattle Herders - Zeremariam Fre

Knowledge Sovereignty among African Cattle Herders

‘This book greatly contributes to the limited literature on theoretical discourses and practices on indigenous knowledge of livestock herding communities in the Horn of Africa. It discusses knowledge heritage and sovereignty through the presentation of valid empirical evidence, and its subsequent relevance in nurturing sustainability of knowledge systems to enhance lives of pastoralists in Africa and beyond.’

Samuel Tefera PhD, Assistant Professor and Asian Desk Coordinator at the Centre for African and Oriental Studies, Associate Dean for Research and Technology Transfer, College of Social Sciences, Addis Ababa University

‘The author has worked with our Beni-Amer pastoral communities in Eastern Sudan and Western Eritrea for over 30 years and this book is the first of its kind in documenting our practices, knowledge systems, heritage and way of life.’

Mustafa Faid and Mohamed Ali, Leaders of the of the Pastoral and Environmental Association Kassala State (PEAKS)

‘A riveting and rare book! Zeremarian Fre guides you along the sandy [dusty] tracks and grassy pastures that the Beni-Amer and their herds have been softly tracing over time all through the Horn of Africa. One of the virtues of the book is that it illustrates vividly and in clear language how their continuous self-built endogenous knowledge on agro-pastoral life is not only at the core of their survival and the survival of their herds, but more importantly a powerful weapon in facing and resisting multiple aggressions . . . Ground-breaking and a huge achievement.’

Yves Cabannes, Emeritus Professor of Development Planning, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL

‘The book underlines the importance of enriching and utilizing the unrecognized, yet valuable scientific knowledge and practices that are deeply rooted in pastoral traditional expertise about their own environment and breeding practices. It is an important publication that reflects Dr Fre’s expertise and long term research in the region and thus, it is a significant addition to the African library.’

Hala Alkarib, Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)

‘This fascinating book not only gives a unique insight into the knowledge and practice of pastoralists in the Horn of Africa from the author’s first-hand experience, it also provides an incisive critique of the multiple dimensions of knowledge, paying tribute to the sovereignty of indigenous knowledge. It has a timely relevance for global sustainability that will appeal to a wider readership.’

Nicole Kenton, International Development Consultant, former long serving senior staff member of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

‘The book covers several intertwined issues relevant to contemporary development policy and practice. It goes beyond the rural-urban and peasant–nomadic livelihoods dichotomy by shedding more light on the inter-linkages within the multiple livelihood systems within the Horn of Africa and globally. A rich evidence-based resource for academics, development partners and social movements for promoting and designing state policies that embrace pastoralist aspirations.’

Bereket Tsegay MA, PhD candidate, Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA)

‘Dr Zeremariam Fre has done a wonderful job of placing at the centre of this book the Beni-Amer pastoralists, the world they inhabit and the knowledge they use to navigate and thrive in it. The lessons contained in this book go beyond pastoralism; it is a must read for anyone serious about understanding the importance of located knowledge in the innovation and development process.’

Yusuf Dirie, PENHA Research Fellow and PhD researcher at the University of Sussex

Knowledge Sovereignty among African Cattle Herders

Zeremariam Fre

First published in 2018 by

UCL Press

University College London

Gower Street

London WC1E 6BT

Available to download free: www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press

Text © Zeremariam Fre, 2018

Images © Zeremariam Fre and copyright holders named in captions, 2018

Zeremariam Fre has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as author of this work.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from The British Library. This book is published under a Creative Commons 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work; to adapt the work and to make commercial use of the work providing attribution is made to the authors (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Attribution should include the following information:

Fre, Z. 2018. Knowledge Sovereignty among African Cattle Herders. London, UCL Press.

https://doi.org/10.14324/111.9781787353114

Further details about Creative Commons licenses are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

ISBN: 978–1–78735–313–8 (Hbk.)

ISBN: 978–1–78735–312–1 (Pbk.)

ISBN: 978–1–78735–311–4 (PDF)

ISBN: 978–1–78735–314–5 (epub)

ISBN: 978–1–78735–315–2 (mobi)

ISBN: 978–1–78735–316–9 (html)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.9781787353114

‘A loyal herder leads and defends his cattle but a bad herder follows them from behind.’

Beni-Amer saying.

The book is especially dedicated to my late mother, Letezion Beyed, who implanted in me strong spiritual and moral values that true happiness comes from serving those who are less fortunate than oneself and doing so with great humility.

To my beloved older brother, Fesseha Fre, who died recently and has been a great role model to me all along – seeing this book would have meant the world to him.

To my dearest wife and comrade for life, Biri Tesfaldet, son Samray, daughter Bilena and my mother-in-law, Tzehaitu Asfaha. I couldn’t have written this book without their constant moral and emotional support, for which I am eternally grateful.

Preface

This book focuses on the description, elicitation, documentation and analysis of major aspects of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) among the Beni-Amer in the Horn of Africa. My fundamental point of departure is that Beni-Amer cattle owners (Seb-ahha) in the western part of the Horn of Africa are not only masters of cattle breeding, but also knowledge-sovereign in terms of owning cattle with productive genes and the cognitive knowledge base which is key to sustainable development.

The strong bonds between the Beni-Amer, their animals and their environment constitute the basis of their ways of knowing, and much of their knowledge system is based on experience and embedded in their cultural practices. Notions that this knowledge is somewhat ‘untrustworthy’ when compared to western scientific knowledge are explored further in the book. The evidence also shows that the Beni-Amer’s knowledge system includes elements of western knowledge; for example, the Beni-Amer incorporate western veterinary knowledge into their practice. The learning is mutual, however, since elements of pastoral technology, such as on animal production and husbandry, make a direct contribution to our scientific knowledge of livestock production. It is this hybridisation and dynamism which are at the core of this indigenous knowledge system.

This premise also affirms that indigenous knowledge can be seen as a stand-alone science, and that a community’s rights of ownership should be defended by government officials, development planners and policy makers, making the case for a celebration of the knowledge sovereignty of pastoralist communities. Throughout the book I demonstrate that the hybridisation of ‘indigenous’ and ‘scientific’ knowledge is a key factor in the sustainability of the Beni-Amer’s pastoral practices.

Pastoral knowledge is embedded in the cultural, spiritual, political and social system of pastoral societies. The cultural aspect is particularly important; the knowledge is often transmitted orally and passed down to each generation through stories, songs and other rituals, where cattle are revered. Pastoralists around the world have historically praised their cattle in verse; among the drovers in the Highlands of Scotland in the late seventeenth century, the commercial importance of an ability to sing about the good points of a Highland cow drew on long-nourished skills (Cheape 2011).

Sadly, the pastoralist culture is becoming eroded as the practice of pastoralism continues to be under threat from political and environmental stresses. Also, pastoralism itself is subject to many misconceptions. It is still viewed by some policy makers as outdated, ‘quaint’ or ‘backward’, and such myths need to be dispelled. Given the wealth of literature produced by decades of research into the environmental and economic advantages of pastoralism, it is important that we see the future of pastoralism not as declining, nor as a linear progression, but as offering many versatile options for dealing with new and emerging challenges in the African drylands and elsewhere. Indigenous pastoral knowledge, as demonstrated by the case of the Beni-Amer, has proved itself to be resilient to change and open to new approaches, offering evidence-based and modern solutions to present and future climatic and other pressures.

Acknowledgements

The agro-pastoralist/pastoralist communities in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and other parts of Africa have been my main source of information and inspiration in writing this book and so they all deserve the highest acknowledgement. This book is a gift to them and I hope it advances their legitimate claim to be masters of their own knowledge sovereignty and future destiny. Their cause, my admiration for their tenacity and resilience, and my love for humanity, are what have driven me to commit half of my life to them, and I will commit the rest of my life to them also.

Friends, academic colleagues, associates, NGOs and social movements across the globe, with whom I have been associated in so many ways, provided moral, technical and professional support, and it would be impossible to name all of them. I would like to mention the following, including some who have passed away.

My colleagues from the Bartlett Development Planning Unit at University College London (UCL). Special thanks to Emeritus Professor Yves Cabannes for his tremendous moral and professional support over the last three years in introducing me to UCL Press, sharing his extensive experience on the subject matter of this book, reading and commenting on some of the chapters and supporting my dream of bringing this task to a successful end. I am very grateful to our Director Professor Julio Davila, and to Dr Robert Biel, who have supported me all along and motivated me to get on with the book without too much delay. I am also very grateful to Chris Penfold from UCL Press for his guidance and moral support during the preparation of the manuscript.

My dear ‘guru’ Emeritus Professor Jeremy Swift (IDS-UK), Dr Camilla Toulmin (IIED-UK), Dr Sara Pantuliano (ODI-UK), Professor Gufu Oba (University of Norway), Professor Itaru Ohta (Kyoto University, Japan), Professor Mitiku Haile (Mekelle University, Ethiopia), Dr Samuel Tefera (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia), Professor Hirut Terefe (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia), Dr Taffesse Mesfin (former senior official within the Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia), Dr Tekeste Ghebray (former executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)), Dr Mohamed Suliman (Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA), Sudan and UK), Abrehet Ghoitom (Eritrea), Emeritus Professor Jan Slikkerveer (Leiden University, the Netherlands) and Diana Bosch (Leiden, the Netherlands).

I thank all my colleagues and trustees (past and present) at the Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA), universities in Africa, NGOs, social movements, relevant government ministries and funders, with whom I share the vision of advocating for pastoralist dignity, equality, peace and sustainable development across the African continent. I also acknowledge inputs from Matthew Smith and Tony Stonehouse, PENHA research associates, for helping with additional literature reviews and making useful comments on the first draft. Many thanks also to Cath D’Alton for drawing the maps.

My deepest gratitude goes to my dear friend and colleague Nicole Kenton (former IIED senior staff member and currently PENHA board member) for her constant encouragement and professional support in editing and generously making various valuable suggestions, which have been incorporated into the book.

Among those who have passed away, I would like to honour and remember my dear colleagues and close friends, including Professor Dr Abebayehu Assefa Abebe (Addis Ababa University), Professor Seyoum Ghebreselassie (Addis Ababa University), Mr Kassahun Meskele Cheru (PENHA Ethiopia), Professor Elhadi Abusin, Professor Abbas Musa Shasha (Khartoum University), Dr Ahmed Karadawi (Sudan Refugee Commission), Professor Lionel Cliffe (University of Leeds), Professor Paul Baxter (Manchester University) and Mr Nigel Walsh (Oxfam UK).

Contents

List of figures

List of tables

Annex 1: Range resources and vegetation in the study area

Annex 2: Pastoral diseases and Beni-Amer curative practices

Annex 3: Customary law of the Beni-Amer

Glossaries

References

Index

List of figures

Fig. 1.1Location of the Beni-Amer in western Eritrea and eastern Sudan with an indication of their grazing territory expansion into north-eastern Ethiopia

Fig. 1.2Traditional area of the Bgait/Bulad cattle

Fig. 3.1Horn of Africa region

Fig. 6.1Sudan–Eritrea–Ethiopia border region

Fig. 6.2Areas of intense agricultural encroachment

Fig. 6.3Traditional seasonal patterns of movement of the Beni-Amer in north-eastern Sudan

Fig. 6.4Diagram of damering system, western lowlands of Eritrea

Fig. 8.1Tuareg pastoral areas

Fig. 8.2Raika pastoral areas

Fig. 8.3Inter-Andean pastoral areas

List of tables

Table 3.1Maturity age and calving interval for different herds

Table 4.1Characteristics of two indigenous breeds

Table 4.2Herd structure among settled cattle owners in eastern Sudan

Table 4.3Herd structure among migrant herds in dry-season grazing areas along the River Tekeze on the Sudan–Ethiopia border

Table 4.4The scale of forage production in Gedaref district, eastern Sudan

Table 5.1Camel owners, with use and adaptation of camels

Table 5.2Comparison of two breeding systems

Table 5.3Signs of oestrus (heat) in cattle

Table 5.4Cattle categories

Table 5.5Herd age–sex structure in two pastoral communities

Table 7.1Cattle disease description in traditional/pastoral terms

Table 7.2Cattle disease description in western/veterinary terms

Table 7.3Examples of symptoms and cures as perceived by traditional veterinarians among the Beni-Amer

Table 7.4Examples of diseases frequently encountered and measures taken to cure them

Table 9.1Productivity of Bgait cattle in comparison with European/temperate and local breeds (per lactation)

Table 9.2Comparison of first lactation milk yield of F1 heifers out of European-breed sires and three local breeds based on EIAR research in Ethiopia

Table 9.3Plants and their medicinal applications

Table A1.1Discharge estimates for the Setit, Gash (Mereb) and Barka in Eritrea

Table A1.2Rough estimation of carrying capacity (CC) of the region in tropical livestock units (TLU) in the Gash-Setit area, western Eritrea

Table A2.1Causes of poor health among animals

Chapter One

Introduction

Our perception of knowledge and reality is, in part, culturally, socially and ecologically determined, and that applies to a multitude of indigenous, or local/empirical, and exogenous, or scientific/western, knowledge systems, including indigenous pastoralist knowledge systems in the African drylands. Knowledge systems, in general, are based on the observation, assumption and interpretation of complex realities. They can be defined as organised structures and dynamic processes of a cluster of understandings, usually locally specific, or both.

In a world in which the sustainability of industrial agriculture is being seriously questioned, there is growing evidence that bio-cultural knowledge systems and practices offer greater opportunities for environmentally and socially just sustainable food production and food sovereignty. I believe that the solution lies in identifying and exploring new epistemic and practical connections between culturally and politically distinct indigenous and exogenous knowledge systems from a complementarity perspective. Thus, the arguments about sustainable food production and food sovereignty need to be strongly anchored in the knowledge sovereignty of the so-called poor and dispossessed, because the worst dispossession is to not acknowledge such sovereignty.

Indigenous knowledge systems are the strategies communities employ to deal with everyday issues such as food production, health, education and the environment. Kiggundu (2007) distinguishes between indigenous knowledge (IK) and indigenous knowledge systems (IKS). He states that IK is also referred to as folklore, and that IKS refers to the techniques and methods communities use to harness IK.

Indigenous knowledge is notoriously difficult to define; different social scientists choose to frame it slightly differently. ‘[Indigenous knowledge] is the knowledge that is unique to a given culture and provides a basis for local-level decision making in agriculture, health care, food preparation, education, natural-resource management, and a host of other activities in rural communities’ (Mutandwa 2013). However, in ‘Potatoes and Knowledge’, van der Ploeg (1993, 209) more colourfully describes indigenous knowledge as a kind of ‘art de la localité’. Like experiential knowledge, which can be defined as ‘the power to utilize one’s own system of knowledge to evaluate an integral component of another knowledge system and pronounce it worthy or unworthy of incorporation into one’s repertoire of knowledge and practice’ (Fre 2018), this art de la localité is not only couched in metaphor, but also, as the name suggests, closely tied to location. Andean farmers in South America, as van der Ploeg explains, use words such as dura/suavecita (hard/soft) in reference to how much the soil has been tilled, and fria/caliente (cold/hot) to convey the degree of soil fertility (van der Ploeg 1993). These terms combine with each other and with other terms to create an entire ‘network of meaning’ (Hesse 1983), one which does not simply add metaphor to the farmers’ way of life, but also informs their practical farming activities, such as risk calculation or avoidance and experimentation with cultivars and crossbreeding, thereby allowing them to gain greater control over their environment. This is not to say, however, that indigenous knowledge is entirely of an experiential nature; it does often contain propositional components as well, as will be discussed in later chapters of this book.

For the purpose of this book, I define IK as the sort of knowledge that generally displays the following five aspects:

• it is culturally and regionally embedded, and does not claim to be universal;

• it is interwoven with the labour process;

• it is negotiated and pluralist;

• it is dynamic rather than static; and

• it embodies and employs a number of scientific principles.

Scientific knowledge, while it may not be reliant upon culture or ‘locale’, is also concerned with the labour process; it may be argued that those processes which lead to scientific knowledge can be negotiated, be dynamic and, of course, employ scientific principles. The general perception is that scientific knowledge is a system of knowledge which, at least ostensibly, is based on the scientific method. In contrast to IK, it purports to be universally applicable. It claims to be produced not through a process of negotiation (though it does often involve debate), but rather through a highly canonised process of observation, hypothesis and experimentation, and is highly propositional in nature. ‘Indeed, wherever it can, it apparently goes beyond third-personal to impersonal propositional knowledge’ (Chappell 2011).

Both knowledge systems, however, attempt to systematise and understand the world, although they are rooted in very different grounds. While indigenous knowledge tends to be more relational, being woven through a process of labour and negotiation, scientific knowledge tends towards the absolute and universal sovereignty of knowledge. It is also true that while indigenous knowledge will tend to engage with and utilise scientific knowledge through its process of negotiation, scientific knowledge tends to subsume indigenous knowledge under its own paradigm. Such a relationship will never be equal unless indigenous knowledge claims its own sovereignty from a position of relative strength and scientific knowledge opens itself up to alternative perspectives.

The Beni-Amer cattle herders

By way of paying tribute to the indigenous pastoral knowledge system of the Beni-Amer, and having worked closely with them, I provide an extensive description of cattle production, husbandry and health management (Chapters 5, 6 and 7). This demonstrates that the Beni-Amer take great care to maintain the general wellbeing of their livestock, as well as paying special attention to the particular needs of the animals they have bred to be adapted to their fragile local ecology, which is described in Chapter 3. The combination of management strategies, herding techniques and animal health care practised by the Beni-Amer constitutes a management regime which is complex and ordered, as will be discussed.

The Beni-Amer, which is Arabic for sons of Amer, live among or are surrounded by several pastoral, agro-pastoral and mixed farming communities in the arid and semi-arid region that is the Horn of Africa. The Beni-Amer of eastern Sudan and western Eritrea maintain important cross-border livestock-based trade ties and other historic-cultural links, which contribute to this regional occupational diversity. To the west of the study area, the Beni-Amer are in close contact with the Rashaida, the Kawahla, the Shukrya and others around the Kassala State in eastern Sudan. In the Gash-Barka region of Eritrea, the Beni-Amer are in close contact with the Nara, Kunama, Hadendowa and Tigrinya-speaking highland Eritreans. They are also in seasonal migratory contact across the Ethiopian border with the Tigray and Begemdr regions of central Ethiopia. To the north and north-east of Eritrea, the Beni-Amer live among the Hadendowa, the Marya and other groups in north-eastern Sudan and northern Eritrea (Figure 1.1). From the author’s field observations in 2016/17, although the territory of the Beni-Amer is geographically well defined, their cattle breeds are known for their productivity and adaptation across the Horn of Africa. So one could argue that the transnationality of Beni-Amer cattle (often called Barca cattle by other communities) across the sovereign political borders in the Horn of Africa could be a fascinating study in the future.

Fig. 1.1 Location of the Beni-Amer in western Eritrea and eastern Sudan with an indication of their grazing territory expansion into north-eastern Ethiopia. Source: Cath D’Alton

Productive potential of the cattle in the study area and the scientific evidence

The Beni-Amer herders own productive cattle, and so the introduction of

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