The Ulwazi Programme is the first digital library in South Africa aimed at collecting and sharing indigenous knowledge and local history and culture. The programme is a project of eThekwini Municipality Libraries and Heritage Department which is managed by AdNotes Digital and aims to address the needs of the previously under-represented majority by providing a portal for local contemporary histories and culture.
According to SovTech; Africa is the fast growing mobile market in the world over the next 5 years with 775m subscribers growing at 30% annually and 170m people With Internet Access. The Province of KwaZulu-Natal is one of the leading Provinces with a rich cultural heritage in the Republic of South Africa and culture is very close to eThekwini Municipality’s heart. This makes Ulwazi Programme a great platform to showcase the diversity of eThekwini cultures while simultaneously show our unity as one people and one nation.
How Does It Work?
The Ulwazi Programme collects and shares local knowledge and histories in the form of a ‘wiki’, a website designed to enable contributions and modifications from multiple users. Local knowledge is recorded on the wiki by fieldworkers who are employed by the programme. The fieldworkers have strong ties to their communities, and have been trained in recording audio and visual material, as well as in basic writing and computer skills necessary for the uploading of stories to the wiki. In addition to the preservation and dissemination of local knowledge, the Ulwazi Programme also has a strong focus on skills development.
As the website can be edited by multiple users it has somewhat of an unusual structure. When you look at this page, for example, you will notice that there are two tabs: one for the content as it’s been published and one for the ‘source’ of the content, which can be added to and revised by people who are registered ‘users’, in this case the fieldworkers.
When you click on the different tabs you may also notice that the content is not laid out as it is on most websites. The structure of the information is similar to how it would it appear in a library cataloging system, such as the Dewey Decimal System. Content is arranged by categories and subcategories, with links to stories or ‘pages’ for each category, as well as links to any audio visual material relating to the particular category. The website in essence acts as a catalogue of sorts for different topics relating to local knowledge and histories.
How Can You Contribute?
Ulwazi is now open to contributions from the general public, all contributions will be analysed and scrutinised by our subject experts before we publish them. Should you have a particular interest in local history and would like to contribute to the Ulwazi Programme please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly accept your material. Please also feel free to make comments or ask questions regarding any of the stories and we will try to answer you as best we can.