Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal)

Duration: 28 mins
Colour: B&W/colour
Available Format/s: HD Video: H.264 Digital File / HD Video: ProRes Digital File
  • Essay
  • Globalisation
  • Identity
  • Landscape
  • Narrative
  • Nature
  • Politics and protest

Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal) is an experimental documentary set at the edge of a nature reserve in Johannesburg. A kind of Brechtian Lehrstück, the film shows the preparations for a people’s tribunal where traditional healers, activists, and lawyers come together to discuss indigenous knowledge and bio-prospecting. The pharmaceutical industry has come to consider traditional medicine as a source for the identification of new bioactive agents that can be used in the preparation of synthetic medicine. This raises new questions about the intellectual copyright protection of indigenous knowledge. Imbizo Ka Mafavuke asks who benefits when plants become pharmaceuticals, given multiple claims to ownership, priority, locality, and appropriation. The protagonists in the film slip into different roles and make use of real-world cases involving multinational pharmaceuticals scouting in indigenous communities for the next wonder drug. Ghosts of colonial explorers, botanists, and judges observe the proceedings.


HD video with sound, 28' (Photo: Austin Malema)

More works by Uriel Orlow

, 2007
16 Minutes

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