Can African values like Ubuntu expand the meaning and understanding of communities of practice? Lessons from mass food markets in Zimbabwe


  • Charles Dhewa
  • Sarah Cummings


knowledge management, markets, food supply, knowledge brokering, Zimbabwe, indigenous knowledge, Ubuntu


African mass food markets, also known as territorial markets, are the major sources of food for the majority of people in African capital cities. These markets use indigenous knowledge to meet preferences of the majority of farmers, traders and consumers in terms of food sources and income. They represent local people’s shared identity and values built organically through trust and relationships. Based on information gathered from key informant farmers and traders in three mass markets of Zimbabwe, this paper shows the extent to which territorial markets use African values such as Ubuntu, relationality, trust and the public good nature of knowledge to add more nuances and flavor to the notion of communities of practice often used to express knowledge management in professional contexts. The lens of communities of practices makes visible the apparently invisible knowledge brokering role of African mass markets, highlighting implications for policy and research.

Author Biography

Charles Dhewa

Charles Dhewa is a proactive knowledge management specialist, evaluator and thought leader on African food systems, rural development and indigenous knowledge systems, based in Zimbabwe. Working at the intersection of formal and informal agricultural markets across Africa, his organization, Knowledge  Transfer Africa also known as eMKambo ( / trends around  food systems to ensure agricultural value chains are driven by knowledge, technology and innovation. He is undertaking a PhD at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation (KTI) Department at Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands. 


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