VALUES OF CRAFT WORKS AND INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEM IN PRE-COLONIAL IGBOMINALAND
The making and using of tools is the first evidence of man’s ability to reason to solve problems. It is easy to think that it is only post-industrial man who has had a significant impact on the world. Pre-industrial man also affected his environment and caused important changes to his environment. Many historians of science argue that technology is not only an essential condition of advanced, industrial civilization but also that the rate of technological change has developed its own momentum in recent centuries. The history of indigenous science and technology in Igbominaland shows that from time immemorial, it is endowed with, vast expertise in different types of skills and handicrafts that are not only fanciful but durable. These technologies were based on culture rooted in empirical knowledge and transmitted from one generation to the other through oral tradition and the process of indigenous apprenticeship system. The study examined some of the crafts and indigenous knowledge that grew with the people and became part and parcel of their culture. Hence, there is much to be found within indigenous knowledge system as the values of their crafts and skills became effective and appropriate in dealing with their peculiar problems since it originated from within their socio-cultural environment.
This paper argues that science and technology are intrinsically enmeshed in the existence of every society. For the Western man, ‘Africa was, and remains a museum of barbarism, a zone of immemorial stagnation, whose inhabitants are congenitally lazy, inferior, unfulfilled and tormented victims of a savage society, by-passed by the laws of human growth due to some natural or ordained failing.’1 It is against this prejudice that this study supports with sufficient evidence that it is erroneous to presuppose that with the Modern High Technology (MHT), science and technology begin and end in the developed nations. With the careful use of both primary and secondary sources, findings reveal that science and technology, be it modern or indigenous, have not only served their environmental needs but also have universal application varying only in nature, content and level of development. Using the Igbomina- a sub group of the Yoruba in Nigeria as a case study, it suffices to say that at no time was there any society with no form of science and technology at one time or the other. Again, even though the global picture of African ‘underdevelopment’ is no doubt, a worrisome and disturbing phenomenon to the discerning eyes; the paper argues further that Africa’s inability to develop and modernize has its root in an aggravating historical circumstance. It concludes that in spite of the cravings for MHT which appears to be an elusive catch-up game, the desire to develop traditional skills and techniques has continued to receive attention. It is suggested that the search for indigenous alternatives should be promoted as there is the need for a close identity between technology and cultural environment in which it exists.
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