In a society that often tells us Black Womxn how we should be, it is refreshing seeing fellow Melenial Sistas defying these notions. Nigerian author Chimamande Ngozie once said, “To choose to write is to reject silence” and that is exactly what Buhle Ngaba did.
So who exactly is Buhle Ngaba one may ask, well the multi-talented actress, storyteller and now author shares some insight on what makes her tick and views on the interesting times we live.
Who’s Buhle Ngaba? (Description 5 words)
Actress, Author & Activist
Explain the title of the book and most memorable childhood moment?
The title of the book describes how the protagonist in the book isn’t able to produce sound due to the cocoon in her throat that she is born with. In a far broader sense, it also describes the silenced state a lot of women of colour find themselves in within the frameworks of a racist and patriarchal society. My most memorable childhood moments are of me creating plays/concerts and insisting my whole family come watch in our lounge. I wasn’t above forcing my primary school teachers to do the same at school.
Why write a book, and what relevance do you think it has in our South African literary market?
I wrote the book purely on a whim but after putting up the title on social media and seeing the response I got for that combined with the hashtag #BooksForBlackGirls, I quickly learnt that there was a need for this book. The relevance it has in the South African literary market is clear by walking into any book shop to purchase something for a child. There are no books with little black protagonists. My feeling is how can we expect our children to see themselves and their own magic if they aren’t represented in stories.
What are your views on South Africa’s literary industry and what more can be done, particularly for and by women?
The industry doesn’t include enough women writers and even our sections on African literature no longer reprint books by women that are vital reading. I think that the only way forward is by women writers actively saturating the industry with our stories. If you are a writer, write. We have the internet and millions ready to read if we provide it.
What about South Africa excites you the most?
The potential for change. Particularly now when it feels as though we are at the cusp of something unsure but we know it is huge.
In your travels, what have you noticed the most?
That Africa is next up on the world stage.
Who would you love to collaborate with the most (dead or alive)?
At the moment, Beyonce’ (Lemonade!), Mwenya Kabwe, Lara Foot Newton, Sara Blecher, Bessie Head (I just finished “Maru”) and if Steve Mqueen could give me a minute to earn that Oscar that would be great too (naturally in a new reformed Oscars ceremony that celebrates black actors!)
Where do you see the future of KaMatla and what legacy would you like it to leave/ and your journey of activism?
I think KaMatlas legacy lies in our outreach and workshop programmes aimed at educating youth while developing skills of creativity and giving tools on how to implement change within societies. This is inspired by the need to enhance the capacity among young leaders to engage their place in the world, so that they may ultimately be able to address the variety of complexities and multi-layered problems facing South Africa and the world. These workshops offer a broad education on several themes which give a perspective of an individuals place in the world and the voice they might discover to impact social change. KaMatla has identified a need amongst young girls particularly in rural South Africa for affordable feminine sanitary products. Many of these girls miss up to a quarter of their school days as a result of a lack of access to safe, affordable sanitary ware. This means that the manner in which menstruation is dealt with in these communities has far reaching implications for the physical, social and mental well being of teenage girls. Lack of sanitary ware results in the restriction of access to education for these girls. This highlights that menstruating is not only a health concern but should also be seen as a significant factor in educational policy planning and development. KaMatla intends on launching a women empowerment campaign addressing this.
What is your understanding of feminism and its place in Africa?
My understanding of feminism and its place in Africa is the direct result of how I was raised. I was raised by a shared womb of women because my mother was a single mother and raised us by herself. I watched my mother and all the women in my life work incredibly hard to provide me with opportunities so that I could break through the barriers of race as well as gender. Women in Africa are the bone of the continent, they carry and birth the children of the soil and are burdened and shackled with structural inequalities. So to me, if what Feminism ultimately is the advocacy of womens rights based on the belief of equality for sexes then surely, feminism does have a home on a continent carried by women.
What’s your greatest achievement and fear?
My greatest achievement to date is probably “The Girl Without A Sound”. My only fear is that there won’t be enough time for me to do everything I want to.
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
That I meditate.
Favorite or memorable author?
Favorite or memorable play?
When did your journey begin and when were you sure that what you’re doing now is your passion and going to do this for the rest of your life?
I started performing as a very little girl and I was always sure that I loved telling stories. I solidified my commitment to it by the time I was 8 years old and attending all the performance classes I could at school.
Are you planning to release more books?
I am sure that I will release more stories. And that may take on many forms including plays, films and books.
Films and plays and doing all I can to carve out a space for black women. Or rather, to actively take that space.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5/10years?
In a rehearsal room. Always in a rehearsal room.
Your Life’s mantra?
Be so good that they can’t ignore you.
As a storyteller and Black womxn what words would you like us to remember you by?
“For the ones with moonlight in their skins”. I like to think of that dedication as a reminder of our fire.
What motivates and inspires you as a storyteller and Black womxn in today’s age?
The fight to be seen.
What does a Melenial embody for you? (Your definition of Black Girl Magic)
Black Girl Magic to me lies in the resilience we develop in the fight to be seen as women of colour. That insistence and force births the magic that exists in the moments of pride we fight for.