By Michael Biko Butera*
Traditional Knowledge (TK) is any knowledge originating from a local or traditional community that is the result of intellectual activity and insight in a traditional context, including know-how, skills, innovations, practices and learning, where the knowledge is embodied in the traditional lifestyle of a community and is passed on from one generation to another. TK often forms part of a community’s cultural and spiritual identity, technical, ecological and medical knowledge as well as biodiversity-related knowledge. Folklore expressions (Folklore) on the other hand, are any forms, whether tangible or intangible, in which traditional culture and knowledge are expressed, appear or are manifested.
Despite clear definitions, there has been a drumming debate whether TK and Folklore should be protected. If not, why? and if yes, how? Would it be through the intellectual property (IP) regime or any other mechanisms? The prevailing and ongoing argument is captured in part two.
The author posits that there is already a starting point to finding a way to protect TK and Folklore given their special nature. This is by rethinking the Swakopmund Protocol as a model law and a sui generis system for African countries to come up with corresponding national laws. Sui generis basically means that of its own kind or class; peculiar.Continue reading