Mabutheto Precis – A Collection of Green Essays


Defining Mabutheto-the concept

The concept, Mabutheto consists of two parts. Mabu refers to soil and theto means praise. The concept Mabutheto owes its semantic structure to the Northern Sotho language of the Sotho tribes of Limpopo province, South Africa and was conceived out of our realisation that oral traditions and indigenous knowledge systems have survived many centuries of isolation and suppression up until today. These oral traditions and indigenous knowledge systems are embodied in Traditional Education (i.e. proverbs, folktales, music, rituals, games, idioms, names, storytelling and initiation as a rite of passage) which was greatly marginalised with the arrival of Missionary Education imposed on the indigenous people through colonisation by European colonial rulers.

Later the former Apartheid government introduced what was known as Bantu Education, a curriculum that was designed to elevate Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools. Since English had previously enjoyed a privileged position during the early days of colonial rule, the apartheid government wanted to elevate the Afrikaans language to the same level of prestige. The end result was the separation of Africans, coloureds, Indians from whites. The chief architect of the Bantu education system Dr Verwoed, believed that different races should be schooled in such a way that people would be kept apart in the job market. This resulted in poor education being offered to Africans, coloureds and Indians thereby rendering these races incompetent in careers exclusively reserved for whites such as engineering for instance.  There was widespread dissatisfaction with the Bantu education system and in 1976, the Black Consciousness movement emerged and was later said to be the brains behind the students riots in Soweto and elsewhere in the country. The basic idea was to inculcate a sense of pride in those oppressed by the apartheid system.

In 1994, a new National Curriculum statement was introduced when the new democratic government was elected. There are now eleven official languages which are said to enjoy equal status although English and Afrikaans still dominate. According to the democratic constitution, traditional cultural education is now centre stage in a quest to correct the injustices of the past.  Mabutheto Precis™ is a collection essays which aim to highlight the need to bring back  Oral Traditions and Indigenous Knowledge System into mainstream education and social development systems in a bit to promote practice, usage and sustainability. The mission is to use literature to support the new educational landscape that has been created with the adoption of the new constitution where all cultural, linguistic and religious groups have a right to practice without any discrimination. The time has come for Oral Traditions and Indigenous Knowledge Systems of Southern Africa and Africa to be part of national and global dialogue. We trust the reader will enjoy the introductory issues of an upcoming collection of Green Essays on traditional community life, its role and relevance in today’s world.



Mahlaga Molepo is an author, executive member of Makhudu Traditional Council and a scholar of Library and Information Science at University of South Africa.



3 thoughts on “Mabutheto Precis – A Collection of Green Essays

  1. Thank you for following my blog.

    This sounds like a very interesting book. Is it widely available?

    I’m very interested to find out more about traditional South African beliefs as they relate to human beings’ relationship with the Earth and other living creatures, and if you can recommend other sources, I’d appreciate it. It seems to me that South Africa’s leader have completely absorbed a large exploitative Western model of thinking about our relationship with the natural world, and I would very much like to know what we might remember from our past traditions to correct this dangerous imbalance.

    1. Thanks a lot David for your feedback.

      The collection will only be available from end of May. But i will contact you as soon as they are available so you can download the e-book versions for FREE.

      Its true that South African leaders have adopted a Western model of thinking thereby neglecting the way we spiritually connect with our environments and self.

      Indigenous Knowledge Systems are but the only available archive we can refer to in this trying times. There is unemployment, natural disasters, poverty, “incurable disease” and wars. We try and find out why by conducting research in the most unimaginable places.

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