Create your own conference schedule! Click here for full instructions

Abstract Detail

Economic Botany Section

Simper, Heidi [1].

The Experience of Orpul and its Effect on Tanzanian Students' Ability to Acquire Medicinal Plant Knowledge.

Anthropologists seem to be in agreement that the erosion of indigenous knowledge is occurring and has an impact on biocultural diversity. Knowledge transmission is an important aspect for maintaining a culture’s IK. There is not a lot of research conducted on knowledge transmission, especially dealing with children. Results of this study give an understanding of how students of a Maasai village in Eastern Africa acquire medicinal plant knowledge, and suggest that orpul, a Maasai traditional healing ceremony, and more importantly the act of collecting the plants used at orpul, can be an effective setting for transmission of both traditional environmental knowledge and culture in general.
My work focused on 44 form 3 students at Noonkodin secondary school in Eluway Village, Tanzania. Two groups of students of equal uniformity in ethnic diversity were determined. One of the groups went to orpul and experienced the traditional ceremony while learning medicinal plants and the other group learned the same plants in a classroom setting. In both groups the students were taught by the same Elder. The plants that were taught were based on the students’ prior medicinal plant knowledge and plants that were accessible to the area.
Results are based upon the different experiences and knowledge attained in both settings. Those students who had attended orpul previously, and also more frequently showed a greater depth of medicinal plant knowledge. More importantly, the students who participated in collecting plants for orpul did significantly better when tested on their medicinal plant knowledge than the other students. The latter indicating that it is not the ritual of orpul itself that leads to knowledge acquisition of medicinal plants, it is the performance, the experience, and the interaction with the actual plants that in the end made the difference in the amount of knowledge the students gained during orpul. Without the ritual of orpul, there would be no need to collect the plants. Orpul is an important medium for botanical knowledge transmission, and therefore by incorporating it, and similar events into the learning system, may help preserve traditional medicinal plant knowledge and in turn conserve biocultural diversity.

Log in to add this item to your schedule

Related Links:
About Noonkodin Secondary School

1 - University of Kent, Ethnobotany, Canterbury, Kent , Canterbury, CT2 7NZ, UK

Indigenous Knowledge
Knowledge Transmission
Medicinal Plant Knowledge
Biocultural Diversity
Environmental Knowledge
Medicinal Plant Knowledge Transmission
Active learning
Classroom Learning
Passive Learning
Traditional Environmental Knowledge
Traditional Medicine
Plant Collection
Western Education
Secondary School Students
Biocultural Diversity Conservation
Traditional Rituals
Traditional Ceremony.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 4
Location: Salon 2/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM
Number: 4005
Abstract ID:1300
Candidate for Awards:Economic Botany Section best student paper

Copyright 2000-2015, Botanical Society of America. All rights reserved