The North West University is a pioneer of African Indigenous Knowledge Systems in South Africa and the African continent at large (it all starts here). Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Centre is housed by the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (FNAS) at the North West University’s Mafikeng delivery site. Indigenous Knowledge Systems is known as “Kitso ya tlhago” (Setswana), “Zivo yechivanhu” (Shona), “Bitivi ba ndaboku” (Tsonga), “Ulwazi le sintu” (isiZulu), “Ndivho nga ha mvelele na vhuvha” (Venda), Inheemse kennis stelsels (Afrikaans).

It is local skills, understandings, philosophies, technologies and knowledge that is unique to a particular community and informs decision making about fundamental aspects of day to day life such as agriculture, natural disaster management, food security, climate change, etc. Language and spirituality are important component of IKS. The IKS Centre host the Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (BIKS) which is a unique, professional four years degree approved by the NWU Senate, Institutional Committee for Academic Standards (ICAS), South African Qualification Authority (SAQA), Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Council for Higher Education.

The IKS Centre is inter - multidisciplinary and it is involved in the teaching, learning, research and community engagement across a wide range of fields, including but not limited to African indigenous astronomy, African indigenous health systems, African indigenous agriculture, African indigenous science and technology, African indigenous languages, African heritage, African arts and culture, biodiversity, cultural diversity, African indigenous law, African indigenous education, African traditional leadership and governance, etc. The programmes at the IKS Centre are developed and designed to recognize, develop, protect, promote and affirm IKS as a body of knowledge relevant to the knowledge economy. The holistic and community based nature of IKS provides a foundation for a link between researchers and IK holders and practitioners in local communities. The inter - multidisciplinary nature of IKS makes it unique and relevant to the North West University `s dreams, current discourse in African Renaissance, decolonization, transformation including cultural diversity. 

The centre is not an island, but is one of the five consortium partner institutions making the Department of Science and Innovation-National Research Foundation (DSI-NRF) Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CIKS). The partner institutions are the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN), North West University (NWU), University of Limpopo (UL), University of South Africa (UNISA) and University of Venda (UNIVEN). The main responsibilities of the CIKS are to facilitate research, education and training, information brokerage, networking and service rendering. This is in line with the aspirations of the South African National IKS Policy (2004), CAPS (2011), IKS Bill (2016) and now the IKS ACT (2019) which has identified IKS as a national asset, a key component of human capital, decolonization, social cohesion, transformation and sustainable development. Apart from curriculum innovation, teaching, learning, research and community engagement, the IKS Centre promotes partnerships and collaboration between knowledge holders and practitioners.