Superbalist 100: Buhle Ngaba

Buhle Ngaba on art and self-expression

As an actor going through what a lot of actors experience off-season – attending a few castings here and there, but without booking anything that could really sustain her – Buhle Ngaba found herself in a bit of a pickle when she couldn’t afford to buy a gift.

Creativity stepped in where her lack of finances had failed her, and when her creation turned out even better than she’d originally expected, Buhle celebrated by photographing the finished product and posting the pictures online with a hashtag.

What happened next was the stuff of fairytales, and after The Girl Without a Sound went viral the #bookforblackgirls was championed for bringing some much-needed diversity to local children’s literature.

“It’s hella lit and we are going in and up,” says Buhle. “I would say more but instead I implore you all to just look at the work. We are here.”

Prompted by the singular and white narrative often relayed in popular children’s literature, Buhle has now set out to empower young South Africans of colour to write both themselves and their stories into existence.

And as an actor she’s realised that there are also far more actresses than there are complex roles, and that it’s up to her to write the roles she wants to play.

“In that way, I have turned the world into my stage without limits for when and where I can perform.”

And her thoughts on the campaign so far?

“I am not entirely sure why I’ve climbed up so rapidly but I suspect that it’s because we are all in formation. So we understand that this win wouldn’t be about or for me, but for a far, far greater movement.”