The Ulwazi Programme is highlighted in the Winter 2012 Carnegie Review, under a section called ‘Preserving Cultural Heritage’. From the review:
The Ulwazi Program is an initiative of the eThekwini Municipal Library to preserve the indigenous knowledge of local communities in the greater Durban area. This innovation, developed and implemented by the software applications section of the libraries, is an integral part of local public library and information services. Web 2.0 technologies are used to create a collaborative online local indigenous knowledge database.
The main objective of the program is to enable members of Durban communities to preserve the knowledge about their culture, history and environment. The program relies on community participation for the collection of local information and makes use of volunteer fieldworkers to drive the work at ground level. Local indigenous knowledge is captured through the full spectrum of media and made available online through the Ulwazi Web site www.ulwazi.org. The library acts as moderator and custodian of the online resource. A second objective of the program is the transferring of IT technologies and skills to local citizens.
This allows the people of eThekwini to become part of the global information society. It benefits them through economic advantage and contributes to the building of a cohesive community and enhances intercultural tolerance. The program celebrates cultural diversity, arts and heritage and aims to promote Durban as an international tourist destination by profiling places of interest, local culture and history of the area and its people. The model can be replicated elsewhere, adapting to different contexts, such as education, health and the environment.
The program has grown exponentially since its inception and typically boasts more than 30,000 page visits per month from 90 countries around the world. Through funding assistance from the Goethe-Institut this year the program is being rolled out to township and rural schools in a bid to create opportunities to enhance ICT skills among young people and generate interest in their own history and culture.