The Ulwazi Programme was established in 2008 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was conceptualised by the ex-Head of Information Systems, Betsie Greyling. It is unique in that it is the first project of its kind in South Africa to promote a democratised collection policy through the use of basic digital media tools and community participation. It uses social technologies and volunteer ‘fieldworkers’ from local communities to generate locally relevant content in local languages, in this case, Zulu and English.
Local History Museums Project
Initially a library project, the the Ulwazi Programme is now run through the Local History Museums of eThekwini Municipality. It encourages contributions from members of the public on any topics relating to the city of Durban and areas within the eThekwini Municipality. The project aims to record and share aspects of local knowledge, history and culture from within the municipality. The type of content, in the form of newspaper-style articles (sometimes with images and audio files) includes:
- Recorded oral histories
- Photographs of material culture
- Oral forms of history
- Art and
- Local ways of doing things
The Ulwazi Programme has recorded numerous aspects of local history and culture including oral histories, family histories, aspects of material culture unique to the Durban area and a wealth of cultural practices relating to food, rites of passage, ceremonies and celebrations, amongst other things. It is seen, and used, as a valuable source of local information, as a platform for dialogue and the exchange of ideas.
Below are some of the project main achievements:
- Established digital library of local history and knowledge in English and Zulu – over 800 articles in Zulu and English (larger than the Zulu Wikipedia)
- Trained over 20 fieldworkers in digital media management and digital skills
- Collaborated with, and gave training to, students at four underserviced peri-urban and rural schools
- Promoted digital and reading literacy by providing access to a locally relevant resource in a local language