chapter  11
Keeping tradition in good repair
The evolution of indigenous knowledge and the dilemma of development among pastoralists
ByPaul Spencer
Pages 16

This chapter is concerned with the arid region associated with nomadic nonIslamic pastoralists in East Africa and refers to the period before the penetration of the cash economy and the process of globalisation. The exclusion of Islamic pastoralists living beyond the northern perimeter of this region is significant. Islam spread into Africa along trade routes, and these skirted the region rather than passing through it, because of its rough and arid terrain. It has been suggested that it was the effectiveness of warrior age organization among these pastoralists that checked the spread of Islam. However, a more likely explanation is the sheer absence of long distant trades routes through the region.1 To this extent, indigenous knowledge was less likely to be infiltrated by ideas that stemmed from expanding civilizations in earlier times.