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Bushman’s Secrets

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South Africa,
Bio-prospecting by the powerful pharmaceutical companies leads to conflict with the indigenous San, who are trying to protect their traditional plants and medicines Bushmen, are members of various Khoe, Tuu, or Kxʼa-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer cultures that are the first cultures of Southern Africa, and whose territories span Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa.
Physical formats available:
Betacam SP
Digital formats available:
Quicktime (Pro Res)
Audio & visual:
Sound, Color

After barely surviving lengthy colonial exploitation and enforced relocation, the Kalahari San of South Africa have to face a new enemy: the pharmaceutical industry. The multi-billion dollar giant is exploiting the cactus Hoodia, a non-stimulating appetite suppressant which has been part of their traditional medicine for centuries.

Intellectual property and patent laws, and a strong will, are the bushmen's weapons to fight for compensation. The uneven battle inspired filmmaker Rehad Desai to travel to the Kalahari to investigate global interest in ancient Bushman knowledge.  Their he meets Jan van der Westhuizen, a Khomani San traditional healer.  Jan's struggle to live close to nature is hampered by centuries of colonial exploitation. Unable to survive as they once did by hunting and gathering, the Khomani now live in a state of poverty that threatens their community. Who will pass on the knowledge of the land to its people and who can protect the plants that hold secrets that are a means to their survival?

Director: Rehad Desai
Producer: UHURU Productions