Days of Cannibalism is a title that sparks immediate curiosity, especially for a documentary. A title this bold should have an interesting story to tell, right? This one doesn’t disappoint.
Directed by Teboho Edkins, Days of Cannibalism tells a compelling story about Chinese traders moving into Lesotho in search of economic success and the effects this has on the Basotho people.
Lesotho is commonly known for it’s quiet, vast, breathtaking scenery and the people are, by tradition, cattle breeders. They farm and herd their cows and constantly refer to the cows as “gods with wet noses”. This is for them a symbol of wealth and success.
When foreigners move in on an area with money, infrastructure and job opportunities, they tend to bring with them a different kind of wealth, and this has a major impact on the people. The Chinese traders in this case also prove to be adept at integrating, speaking the local language fluently and going ahead to herd a few cows of their own. In one of the scenes that ties Edkins’ ruminations on globalisation, immigration and identity together, one of the locals puts forward a question: “How would you feel if I told you that the Chinese own a cattle herd just like a Mosotho because they live in Lesotho? Does this mean they have adapted our culture now?”
Days of Cannibalism is quite captivating especially with the ambiguous storyline. It is hard to tell exactly where the story is going. Edkins does not follow traditional narrative structures opting for slow takes, zero talking heads and ambiguous plotting. This story is also told from both perspectives. The Chinese migrants are trying to adapt and live harmoniously in Lesotho while the locals interrogate their conflicted feelings about their guests.. It is fascinating watching both points of views play out and the doc brings a new meaning to the term “cannibalism” especially from an economic perspective.
This story emanates from the Talent Press, an initiative of Talents Durban in collaboration with the Durban FilmMart. The views of this article reflect the opinions of the film critic, Tsakane Shikwambana.