Rehad Desai’s documentary, Bushman’s Secret, which relates how pirating of indigenous knowledge threatens the survival of South Africa’s first people, has picked up two international awards recently.
The film picked up the prestigious Silver Dhow award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and then went on to win the Jury Prize for Documentary at the Amazonas Film Festival in Brazil.
The strength of feeling Desai’s film has invoked can be attributed to telling the Hoodia story from the view of Bushmen themselves and capturing all the stages of their fight for survival. It starts with their dismay at learning that the South African government had, through the Centre for Scientific Research, given the go ahead to an international pharmaceutical company for the licensing and scientific trials of the appetite suppressing component in the Hoodia plant. The film follows their fight for justice and recognition, and concentrates on the central issue – can modern and traditional societies live side by side? If not, what does this mean for the survival of the world’s first people at a time when global warming is spiralling out of control and modern medicine seems dumbfounded by many diseases.