Sustainability in Southeast Nigeria Through Indigenous Environmental Education
Alaribe, Charles Chinedu
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This dissertation aims to illuminate why Indigenous Knowledge is declining in Igbo land, southeastern Nigeria, and the possibilities of using Indigenous Environmental Education to re-generate Igbo Indigenous Knowledge. The research, focusing on both Nigerian Igbo and diasporic Igbo, has the potential to add nuance and complexity to the discussion of Indigenous Knowledge in the context of Igbo people. This study is motivated by the research question “why is Igbo Indigenous knowledge declining and how has this decline impacted on Igbo language preservation, socio-cultural and ecological sustainability of Igbo people”? In exploring this fundamental question, I argue that a culturally based Indigenous environmental education rooted in Igbo language instruction may assist in preserving Igbo Indigenous knowledge, and local ecological resources. Drawing on postcolonial theory, decolonization and critical pedagogy as theoretical frames, I argue that these approaches interrogate Eurocentric dominant views, rooted in colonialism, that misrepresent and undermine African Indigenous knowledge. This dissertation also offers insight into how a persistent colonial mentality, continues to undermine Igbo worldviews. In conducting this research, I employ Indigenous Methodologies, involving Indigenous approaches to epistemology – stories and personal narratives. These are supplemented with interviews and document analysis. Since Igbo are well-dispersed people, the research design also considers Igbo Diaspora in Toronto to illustrate the effect of locatedness and the influence of a westernized environment on Igbo language and Indigenous Knowledge preservation. The findings from the research suggests that complementary epistemology, through a creative integration of Igbo Indigenous Knowledge and Western epistemic approaches in the school curriculum, presents a viable means of preserving Igbo Indigenous knowledge. Findings further suggest that Igbo youths are interested in Igbo Indigenous knowledge, nevertheless, society’s inability to transfer Indigenous knowledge and widespread western influences presents challenges to the preservation of Indigenous knowledge. Ultimately we must consider how to incorporate Igbo and other Indigenous knowledges, into the educational system so that the low-status accorded to them may be reversed. In the Igbo case, I argue, this warrants an epistemological approach grounded in Igbo language instruction and knowledge of the local environment.