Wangui wa Goro
Independent academic, critic, public intellectual, translator, editor, writer, social and cultural catalyst, advocate, activist and campaigner for human and cultural rights
Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu: I am, because you are.
What is exciting is that humans, knowledge, technology and science coming together meaningfully can enable the harvesting and channelling of knowledge outcomes widely and rapidly. Translation or more specifically traducture (deep translation) allows communities to hear one another and for knowledge to travel across time, disciplines, and cultural and language divides. I am therefore excited that the UN and many international and national institutions and players are placing a high premium on knowledge management because it means that knowledge can be ‘laser guided’ for optimum effect. Insights from our research on translation and traducture show that small and large institutions, communities and individuals have vast amounts of information and data gathered over years which can be used to solve urgent challenges if it is ‘translated’ deeply and intelligently.
This tool of traducture, alongside others provides new departures to development practice which brings solutions through holistic use of multiple knowledges available. An example is a project that linked technologies, translation and traducture with doctors to save lives during the Haitian earthquake via the mobile phone. Another example is the work of Ushahidi who continue to provide intelligent real time digital solutions to complex situations through linking the best fit solutions and knowledges globally and locally in real time. As technology, skills and knowledge improve and are better organised, wider data becomes widely available but education and accessibility and will need to be fast-tracked and more inclusive to keep up. Demystifying issues is important as is political will. This can be done in measured, scientific and engaging ways where people contribute to real change and bring transformation in their own and others’ lives in quantum ways. Solidarity and empathy are also critical. Therefore, scaling up the SDGs in holistic ways is essential. This will require Really Intelligent Knowledge Management Design, including how best to target and scale up knowledge impact and effectiveness. This will require bringing ‘traducteurs’ and translation at the beginning of the design process. A favourite example is the Greenbelt Movement which brings intelligent modelling of multiple knowledges drawn from a wide array of sources that uses simple yet complex translation of the human, social, scientific, economic, technical, socio-cultural and political knowledges for multiple, high impact outcomes.
Although Professor Maathai is gone, her seeds are now trees planted across the globe, transforming women’s lives, families, the global ecology, impacting climate change and the environment, changing lives and communities, providing livelihoods, fostering inclusion, alleviating poverty and promoting peace! Our approach to knowledge management should be like those seedlings. May it continue to grow and open more windows and yield more opportunity, more humanity. Umuntu, ngumuntu ngabantu.