Original Research

Capturing tacit knowledge: A case of traditional doctors in Mozambique

Yasser I.R. Ayub, Okuthe P. Kogeda, Manoj Lall
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 20, No 1 | a880 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v20i1.880 | © 2018 Yasser I.R. Ayub, Okuthe P. Kogeda, Manoj Lall | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 May 2017 | Published: 19 January 2018

About the author(s)

Yasser I.R. Ayub, Department of Computer Science, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Okuthe P. Kogeda, Department of Computer Science, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Manoj Lall, Department of Computer Science, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

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Background: The indigenous healers or traditional doctors play a significant role in the healthcare provisioning in Africa. Although traditional healing has been in practice for several centuries, very little has been achieved in terms of harvesting the wealth of tacit knowledge possessed by these practitioners for future references.

Objective: The objectives of this article were twofold. The first objective was to capture the tacit knowledge possessed by traditional healers in Mozambique. The second objective was to enhance preservation of tacit knowledge for sharing and training of other traditional healers.

Method: The cognitive semiotic model was used as a basis for capturing the tacit knowledge. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected by using interviews and questionnaires were applied during systems requirements elucidation, designing the user interface and in building the knowledge repository. In the requirement elucidation phase, 13 traditional doctors were interviewed. Besides text and voice recordings, video recordings and photos were used in capturing the tacit knowledge. The usability of the system was tested by using the heuristic evaluation technique.

Results: The findings revealed that the system developed could be used for capturing the tacit knowledge and storing it in an explicit form. The usability tests indicated that the prototype developed served its purpose to a great extent.

Conclusion: The study concludes that cognitive semiotic model is a suitable tool for capturing tacit knowledge of traditional doctors in Mozambique. The results of the usability evaluation confirm that the system developed supports information sharing and ease of use. It is observed that the developed application could support users with little formal education. However, some basic computer literacy training would assist in maximising the benefits of the system.


tacit knowledge; knowledge harvesting; cognitive semiotic; traditional doctors; usability testing; cognitive model


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