Tuesday 11 January 2011

Darren Olivier

Mozambique's copyright failing

Malangatana Ngwenya, the famous artist from Mozambique, sadly died last week in Portugal where he was assisting in a case involving counterfeits of his work. AllAfrica and the The New York Times carry the story and summary of his life and fame. The NYT describe him as:

"..a beloved national hero in Mozambique, was one of the few African artists to gain substantial worldwide recognition while staying in Africa — an international profile that was enhanced by an expansive personality. He had cosmopolitan tastes; his knowledge of global art was wide; and he was a born performer who composed music, sang songs in five languages and periodically broke into spontaneous dancing."

It is a travesty that as much as his country loved him they have not yet bothered to deposit their ratification of the Berne Convention at WIPO (see ACA2K link below) meaning that his famous works may not be protected internationally. Mozambique's best tribute to the life of the man will be to ensure that they make that deposit and join the other 164 countries taking advantage of the reciprocity offered by the BC. This type of scenario is frustrating when African countries so often play victim when their IP is "stolen" by the big bad West.

Click here for ACA2K assessment of the state of copyright in Mozambique and here for the [dismal] state of Mozambique's accession to international copyright agreements.

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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