By Saai Mahlangu


Monicca Thulisile Bhuda (26), a PhD candidate in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) at the North-West University, Mafikeng campus wrote a Masters dissertation which proves that Ndebele women construct symmetrical figures in their beadwork and mural art. She is an inspiring young woman from the dusty roads of KwaNdebele, Kwaggafontein A. She started her primary school at Ematjeni Primary School in 1999, then moved to Sokapho Middle School, later matriculated at Entokozweni High School in the year 2011.

In April 2017, Monicca Thulisile Bhuda made history by being the first graduate on the African Continent to Graduate with a distinction in Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge Systems since its inception in the Faculty of Agriculture, Science & Technology at the North West University.

In 2019, she made history by producing a Masters dissertation that proves that the Ndebele art has symmetrical geometry, making her dissertation remarkable, unique and ground breaking. Furthermore, she further graduated for her Master’s degree at the North-West University with distinction, making all her degrees thus far distinctions.

Her Masters’ in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (M.IKS) research was about the role of Ethnomathematics in the cultural life of AmaNdebele women in Mpumalanga Province.

“Ethnomathematics can be described as mathematical ideas and concepts within culture. It is the relationship between culture and mathematics. We as are saying that, cultural groups use mathematical ideas and concepts for cultural identity or for survival,” said Thulisile Bhuda.

Her findings show that Ndebele women are Ethnomathematicians who (most) never attended any formal schooling but have knowledge of geometry, visible in their beadwork and mural art. This knowledge is shared from a mother to daughter using indigenous methods of knowledge transmission such as orally, through observation and participation. Ndebele women use their indigenous knowledge to sustain their livelihoods. They sell beaded and painted artefacts to support their families, take children and grandchildren to school. This is aligned with the IKS policy of 2004 which supports the participation of women in preserving indigenous knowledge and the IKS Bill of 2017 which states that indigenous people need to create wealth and job creation using their indigenous knowledge.

Speaking to her on her chosen career, she said she choose this topic because of her passion of preserving the indigenous knowledge of AmaNdebele who for a very long time were taken for granted.

“I want to show that there is more to what my people are known for. My field of expertise are, African Ethnomathematics, African metallurgy, African metaphysics and African cosmology” said Thulisile Bhuda.

“I obtained all my degrees so far with distinction, which shows that I am an example that hard work and prayer work,” added Thulisile Bhuda. Thulisile is currently working towards her doctoral studies, still her focus is in AmaNdebele.

Monicca Thulisile Bhuda (24), a master’s student in Indegenous Knowledge Systems (IKS)

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