Fortunate Phaka

Category: Vision

Fortunate Mafeta Phaka, 32, is an environmental scientist and author of a book titled A bilingual field guide to the frogs of Zululand. He chose to focus his studies on South African wildlife and its interactions with the country's cultures and languages, which he feels have been marginalised from environmental research.

In his research studies Fortunate investigated the complicated relationship between cultural and biological diversity with the aim of increasing social inclusion in environmental matters and informing environmental policy that is socially and ecologically justified.

The motivation behind his study route is based on Fortunate's inherent belief that current environmental policies exclude certain people, their cultures as well as certain animal groups. As a way to remedy this, he wrote the frog guide in both English and isiZulu. He also started compiling a comprehensive list indigenous names for South African frogs and reptiles. He has published guidelines for doing this in a scientific journal so that anyone wanting to contribute to the list of indigenous animal names can freely add their own or use the ones he has found.

Fortunate's initiatives not only contribute to the development of previously neglected languages, but they also add scientific merit to cultural knowledge. He is currently studying a joint PhD between South Africa’s North-West University and Belgium’s University of Hasselt.

Follow Fortunate on Twitter: @Green_Darkie