Imbizo Ka Mafavuke [Mafavuke's Tribunal] considers medicinal plants as dynamic agents linking nature and humans, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity, in a network of curative, cultural, historical and economic connections; this includes questions around bioprospecting and commercialising indigenous knowledge in a global context. The film, which is a companion piece to Mafavuke's Trial, which takes as its starting point a 1940 trial, in Durban, against Mafavuke Ngcobo an Inyanga (traditional herbalist) accused by the white medical establishment of untraditional behaviour because he used 'Western' ingredients in his preparations. Imbizo Ka Mafavuke then travels through time and the tables are turned as Mafavuke accuses the pharmaceutical industry, in the present, of exploiting indigenous knowledge for commercial gain. The evolving trial is accompanied by observational scenes connecting sites and practices of traditional medicine in South Africa in rural and urban contexts.
Commissioned by Film London Artists' Moving Image Network with funding from Arts Council England, and in association with Wellcome Trust, University of Westminster and Parc St Leger Contemporary Art Centre, France.
Producer South Africa: Samora Sekhukhune
Producer UK: Eva Rowson
Camera: Manuel Lapière
Editor: Anuree De Silva
Composer: João Orecchia
Sound Design: João Orecchia
Writer: Uriel Orlow
Production design: Puleng Kgabutlane