Witness Kozanayi

  • Bio-economy Research Chair
  • University of Cape Town, Humanities, Environment


With the support of relatives, friends and charitable institutions, Witness has a Phd in Environmental and Geographical Sciences and a Masters degree in Environmental Management for Business. For his undergrad, he obtained a Degree and National Diploma in Agriculture. He is married, and his happy family has been his pillar of strength in his life. Currently he is a post doctoral research fellow at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Beyond the call of duty, he is the coordinator of Chaseyama Old Students Association, a voluntary grouping of former students at Chaseyama Primary School who are mobilising resources to develop the school.

Greatest Achievement

Being awarded a joint Canon Collins/Cheveening scholarship to study for a Masters degree in the UK, when he was over the cut off age for that scholarship.

Professional Interests

He joined the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow after completing my Phd studies with the same department. Further, He is also interested in participatory research methods and action research with semi illiterate researchers.  For many years he worked in the NGO sector, focussing on the rural agricultural systems including commercialisation of communal agricultural production. This is an area he would like to pursue further as part of my post doc studies. In particular he would like to focus on the governance of seed systems of small holder farmers and how that ensures food security and resilience to climate change induced disasters. As part of my post doc fellowship, he will be working on the Seed and Knowledge Initiative project (being implemented in S. Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi) whose aim is to revive traditional seed and knowledge systems and deepen understanding about their functioning, within the context of supportive agricultural, ecological, and cultural practices. Broadly, his research area is governance of non-timber forest products. He is particularly interested in the role and dynamics of customary systems in managing non-timber forest resources particularly when such resources are commercialised and the central state gets involved by way of overlaying statutory practices on existing local practices. To that end, He is also intrigued by the ecological and livelihood outcomes of the interplay between customary and statutory systems as well as the contextual factors that influence the duality. His interest in this area was greatly shaped by the long period he spent living in rural areas which has shaped and influenced his conceptualisation of nature, people and rules that shape the interaction between these two.