Understanding local knowledge has become a central academic project
among those interested in Africa and developing countries. In South
Africa, land reform is gathering pace and African people hold an
increasing proportion of the livestock in the country. Animal
health has become a central issue for rural development. Yet
African veterinary medical knowledge remains largely unrecorded.
This book seeks to fill that gap. This book captures for the first
time the diversity, as well as the limits, of a major sphere of
local knowledge. Beinart and Brown argue that African approaches to
animal health rest largely in environmental and nutritional
explanations. They explore the widespread use of plants as well as
biomedicines for healing. While rural populations remain concerned
about supernatural threats, and many men think that women can harm
their cattle, the authors challenge current ideas on the
modernisation of witchcraft. They examine more ambient forms of
supernatural danger expressed in little-known concepts such as
mohato and umkhondo. They take the reader into the homesteads and
kraals of rural black South Africans and engage with a key rural
concern - vividly reporting the ideas of livestock owners. This is
groundbreaking research which will have important implications for
analyses of local knowledge more generally as well as effective
state interventions and animal treatments in South Africa.
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