Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Barber, Elizabeth A.


Western knowledge of African philosophy, culture, leadership, and pre- and post- colonial history reflects both myths and truths that originate from Western ways of doing research. This ethnographic study (Creswell, 2009; Denzin & Lincoln, 2011; Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007; O'Leary, 2004) seeks to develop an understanding of the context for leadership in Malawi, a Sub-Saharan country. Using the indigenous research paradigm, which is a set of research beliefs or framework (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011) in which the researcher and the researched are connected, knowledge is relational, truth is relational with the universe, and research methodologies are based on indigenous knowledge, conversations with three citizens reveal the social context for leadership in southern Malawi. Leadership is defined using the direction, alignment, and/or commitment (DAC) framework, such that any collective activity, system, or entity that produces DAC is leadership, whether at the group, organizational, or societal level (Drath et al., 2008). Indigenous methodologies and methods such as indigenous interviews, self-reflection, and inclusion of indigenous knowledge inform the research, allowing the voices of the informants to be heard alongside the voice of the researcher, and the informants to become equal partners with the researcher. Digital media is used to collect data and produce a digital ethnographic storytelling website, thus providing a platform for reconstructing the oral experience (Underberg & Zorn, 2013). The digital ethnographic storytelling website is: