Bushman’s Secret

Director: Rehad Desai
Country: South Africa
Year: 2006
Running Time: 64 min.
Language: English, Jul’hoan, and Afrikaans

When South African filmmaker Rehad Desai travels to the Kalahari to investigate global interest in ancient Bushmen knowledge, he meets Jan van der Westhuizen, a fascinating Khomani San traditional healer. Jan’s struggle to live close to nature is hampered by centuries of colonial exploitation of the San Bushmen and of their land. Unable to survive as they once did hunting and gathering, the Khomani now live in a state of poverty that threatens to see the last of this community forever. One plant could make all the difference. Hoodia, a cactus used by Bushmen for centuries to suppress appetite, has caught the attention of a giant pharmaceutical company as a weight-loss option for westerners. Bushman’s Secret features breathtaking footage of the Kalahari landscape, and exposes us to a world where modernity collides with ancient ways, at a time when each has strangely come to rely on the other.

About the Director

Rehad Desai

Biography: Rehad Desai is a former political exile from South Africa, who returned to his home country in 1990. Desai entered the television and film industry as a producer and director in 1996. In 1997, he completed his master’s degree in social history at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; he then completed a postgraduate degree in television and film production through AVEA in 2000. He runs his own film and television company, Uhuru Productions, which produces documentary and dramatic works. He is also the director of the Tri-Continental Film Festival, and is active in the self-organization of filmmakers.

(Source: Through African Eyes – Conversations with the Directors – Volume 2, BONETTI Mahen and SEAG Morgan (Editors), 2010, African Film Festival, Inc. and Printinfo JV LLC, Yerevan, Armenia, p.106)

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
My Land My Life (2002);
Born into Struggle (2004);
Bushman’s Secret (2006);
You Chuse (2010 – Anita Khanna).

Filmography:
The Bank, the Bodybuilders and the Businessman (1998);
Has Socialism Failed Us? (2000);
Carlos Cardoso: An Independent Spirit (2001);
Dilemma (2002);
My Land My Life (2002);
The Untouchables (2003);
Death of a Bushman (2004);
Born into Struggle (2004);
Looting the Nation (2004 – Anita Khanna);
Taking Back the Waves (2005);
Bushman’s Secret (2006);
The Heart of Whiteness (2006);
Bhambatha – War of the Heads 1906 (2007);
You Chuse (2008 – Anita Khanna);
It Happened to Me (2008 – Rehad Desai, Arya Lalloo, Darryl Els, Michael Matsie);
The Father Inside (2009 – Rehad Desai, Arya Lalloo);
The Battle for Johannesburg (2010 – Rehad Desai, Darryl Els);
The Weather Gods (2011);
COP17: An Activists Diary (2011);
Smoke in the Sky (2011);
Permission to Stay (2011);
Miners Shot Down (2014).