06 March 2012

Nutritious value of free indigenous plants

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Phumlani Cimi, Albany Museum’s botanist, presented his Masters Degree paper entitled “The Role of Ethnobotany in integrating Indigenous Knowledge in the Science Education Discipline” during the 29th conference of the South African Museums Association held in Grahamstown.

Concerned about his research thesis being stuck among others at Cory Library, and only accessible to students and academics, Cimi saw the need to reach out and inform other museum practitioners. The SAMA conference became the most suitable platform.

“Grandparents traditionally were the source of identification and information, but nowadays herbarium assists with the identification because most children no longer stay with their grandparents,” Cimi told the delegates.

His research focused on the usefulness of indigenous plants as nutritious food. His research also took away the notation that museums are only concerned with research, curation and exhibitions, and are not really contributing to the development and social upliftment of the society.

“Museums are a basic necessity … and Mr Cimi’s research contributes to food security,” Bongani Mgijima, Manager of Albany Museum said.

Cimi echoed Mgijima’s sentiments, saying that this has been developed further in that an electronic version of a booklet on recipes is available. There is also a plan to develop CDs that will be distributed to clinics and hospitals to help patients see the value of nutritious indigenous plants that have a medicinal value, which are able to boost immune system.

Delegates also saw the need to emphasise the indigenous naming of certain plants such as irhawu.

“This is because of the thorny nature which causes itching in this plant, for example,” Patricia Mafu, Manger of Museums in the Directorate of Museums and Heritage in the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture said.

Almost all the indigenous plants are known to grow in abundance, and are free available in the veld.

Cimi is studying for the PhD with the Nelson Mandela Metropole University.

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