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Wilbert Zvakanyorwa Sadomba

LAHRI / LUCAS Virtual Fellow 2023
Arts, Humanities and Cultures
Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute / Leeds Centre For African Studies

LUCAS Project Overview

Colonially Induced Dialetical Materialism in Zambezi River Fisheries
Management of natural resources is a contentious subject as perspectives differ depending on cultural values. Western-centric environmental management revolves around an extractive, Neoliberal policy whereas other communities have a more material and values-based approach, centered in indigenous knowledge and cosmology. Community management of resources can be key to restoring sustainability while still benefitting from the ecosystem services. Colonial mindsets can erode the cultural beliefs which inherently guide sustainable management. Fisheries are culturally, spiritually and economically significant in the Zambezi Basin but are threatened by overexploitation, climate change and invasive species. I will assess how fisheries management in Zambezi River communities is driven by cultural and cosmological beliefs and determine how this may offer an alternative to Neoliberal perspectives. I will use conflict fisheries of invasive species as a case study as there is no cultural affinity to economically valuable but ecologically damaging invasive crayfish - assessing spiritual and linguistic aspects driving use (there is no vernacular for crayfish in any Southern African language). This will guide effective response to global change and exploitation in Africa in a culturally appropriate manner which is attuned to the dialectical materialism of fisheries resources.
I'm teaching and researching with University of Zimbabwe. I am developing a new field of Anthropology which I am calling ‘Anthropology of Hard Sciences’. This field is about application of Epistemology, Philosophy, History, Politics and their intersection with Hard Sciences like Maths, Physics, Engineering etc. comparing and contrasting Western knowledge systems and those of Southern Africa, particularly of Mutapa Empire region. This has led to unearthing methods of reading knowledge of non-writing cultures and its use to solve current problems. The result is that I invent things based on application of Shona knowledge systems overwhelming western Science as a knowledge system.


For example, I have recently invented a multifunctional, multi-purpose food processing workstation. This is a type of ‘stove’ that uses at least 8 sources of heat simultaneously or interchangeably and accommodates spherical claypots and flat-bottomed metallic plots. It cooks, bakes, grills and warms enabling combinations to produce unique recipes and energy conservation.

I have also published on Shona Mathematics, Chemistry and Engineering comparing it with western Science. The discoveries are shocking. For example I have discovered that Differential and Integral Culculus was discovered by Shona women many millennia before Newyon and Liebniz were born. Zero and decimal gradation were used in Zimbabwe long back which questions held beliefs and assertions that India was the cradle of Mathematics. Recent publications include translations from Shona manuscripts like: ‘Proverbs, conundrums and idioms as oral archives of Shona Philosophical Mathematics’ (2021) and ‘Shona Mathematics of the kitchen hut: Gendered Geometric application centering women in domestic politics and power’ (Sadomba, 2023).