South Africa’s treasures on show at intellectual property gathering in Switzerland

South African delegates were in Geneva, Switzerland, for the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) General Assembly where they showcased the country’s cultural and scientific treasures.wipo-treasures03
The event, which ran from 3 October to 11 October, brought together WIPO’s member states to discuss progress in the organsation’s work and possible amendments to intellectual property policies.

Running with the theme “Treasures of South Africa”, the South African exhibit showcased the country’s traditional cultures and scientific innovations.

Read the full “Treasures of South Africa” brochure below or download it.

South Africa is the “Rainbow Nation”: a land of spectacular sights, joyous music and – of course – a vibrantly inspired people.

It is also a land of treasure. Not just the treasure of gold and diamonds, but the treasure of the future: intellectual property. Having inspired the whole world through the beacon of hope of Nelson Mandela, the people of South Africa are now energizing to bring their own inspiration, the cultural and scientific wealth of their country, to its full potential.

Central to this are the twin IP related goals of bringing South Africa’s traditional culture to a wider global audience, and securing a position at the forefront of scientific innovation. South Africa is one of the leading lights in the ongoing efforts of WIPO to bring rigor to the formal means of dealing with traditional knowledge, and this fine exhibition explains why.

Few countries can boast the kind of evocative mastery of artistic crafts that is part of South Africa’s DNA. You will see traditional, and you will see the modern interpretation of traditional by brilliant indigenous designers. Likewise, you will learn about how South Africa works to keep its place at the top table of cutting-edge technology.

Ever since the first heart transplant was performed in Cape Town in 1967, South Africa has had a world famous medical tradition. On display here is an even more remarkable product of genius from Cape Town, the CAT scan. You will also find several other internationally acclaimed inventions, such as the Smartlock Safety Syringe. Open the treasure chest, and have a great time.

Francis Gurry

WIPO Director Generalwipo-flag

About South Africa

The southernmost tip of Africa is home to a nation on the rise – a place where a warm-spirited and inventive people, great natural wealth and breathtaking landscapes come together to create fresh opportunities and new ways of doing things.

This is South Africa in the 21st century: modern, vibrant and productive, rooted in Africa and a good international citizen.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the consolidation of democracy in South Africa and creation of institutions that support this, has helped to strengthen the nation building project. Taking local conditions and international best practice into account, the country has launched a range of strategic initiatives to accelerate development and growth that will benefit the entire population by addressing the systemic challenges of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.wipo-zulugirl


South Africa: IP Gateway to Africa

South Africa is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The country plays an active role in its national capacity and within regional formations, in particular the African Group.

While it follows all WIPO committees, the nation pays special attention to The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC).

Intellectual Property Regulatory Body and Legislative Environment in South Africa

The CIPC, established in May 2011, is mandated to regulate and protect South Africa’s Intellectual Property assets in accordance with the provisions of a range of legislation which is enacted over a number of decades.

Creating an enabling environment for Intellectual Property has been the subject of much research and legislative reform. This process will continue to gain momentum in the next few years. The CIPC works closely with WIPO to ensure that global IP standards are implemented in South Africa and that global best practice is reflected in the changing IP legislative and policy environment.

An imperative for the CIPC is to attract the registration of IP from African countries, and in particular from countries within SADC.

Exhibition Theme: Treasures of South Africa

With the theme of “Treasures of South Africa”, the Exhibition will showcase how South Africa’s engagement in the affairs of WIPO finds expression in how the country manages its national intellectual property.

While reflecting on the South African multi-cultural artefacts from which many arts and culture practitioners make a living, it is an assimilation of the indigenous cultural expressions that have retained their original uniqueness.

It is through this that they offer a perfect link to the policy debates on the importance of Protection of Cultural Expressions & Traditional Knowledge Systems, which are currently taking place at WIPO.

The South African “Treasures of South Africa” Exhibition consists of three distinct elements, the first being craft products from some of local master crafters who include some living legends as well as items from young people making their mark in this design discipline that includes clay pots, ilala baskets, ceramics, and beaded calabashes.

The second element features fashion and design works from premium South African indigenous designers who are increasingly making a name for themselves internationally such as Laduma Ngxokolo from “Maxhosa”, Palesa Mokubung “Mantsho”, Nkhensani Nkosi from “Stoned Cherrie” and more.

Thirdly, a collection of visual arts wraps up the distinctive elements that are to be showcased at the exhibition.

This presentation provides an artistic sneak peek into street photography. It unlocks a way of sharing the unmediated chance encounters and random incidents that take place in public places within South African townships, depicting various sociopolitical and economic settings.

“Treasures of South Africa” asserts arts and culture as ancient crafts that have flourished for many centuries in Africa, together with a long history that has been transmitted verbally from one generation to the next. With growing international interest in the potential of cultural and creative industries, South Africa is increasingly focusing on its cultural and creative industries as potential contributors to economic growth and job creation.wipo-sansa

Some of South Africa’s ground-breaking inventions

South Africa has given expression to its brand of Inspiring New Ways with a number of world-renowned and ground-breaking inventions and innovations.

As part of the WIPO General Assembly exhibition, the country will showcase the treasures that have been developed, and continue to be developed, within science and technology. Some of the most renowned inventions to emerge from South Africa include:

Speed Gun

This invention could only come from a cricket loving country. Henri Johnson invented the Speedball in 1992. The device accurately measures the speed and angles of speeding objects, such as cricket and tennis balls.

Smartlock Safety Syringe

Smartlock safety syringes provide improved protection against needlestick injury and contamination of the likes of the Ebola virus, Hepatitis and HIV. This invention has saved countless lives.wipo-cat

CAT Scan

The Computed Axial Tomography Scan or CAT was developed by Cape Town physicist, Allan Cormack and his associate Godfrey Hounsfield.

He provided the mathematical technique for the CAT scan, in which an X-ray source and electronic detectors are rotated about the body, and the resulting data is analysed by a computer to produce a sharp map of the tissues within a cross-section of the body. This resulted in receipt of a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.


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