There is a sense of irony in the fact that I, myself, am a white woman writing about a book that is for a generation of young black females. But it has become more and more poignant that one does not have to be of a certain skin type to discuss and respect these pertinent issues. Especially when they are so close to my heart. This book- “A Girl Without A Sound” is on the rise and truly making waves in South Africa, and we anticipate worldwide. Allow me to introduce to you a woman that I have had the privilege of working closely with during my time at Rhodes university- Buhle Ngaba.
The book that this rising star has created is called “A Girl Without A Sound” and one that she describes as a project of the heart. Buhle explained, “The Girl Without A Sound” was born out of defiance and as a response to the fairytales we were told as little girls. Stories about white princesses with blue eyes, flowing locks of hair and an overwhelming awareness of their beauty. More than that, I want it to be a healing balm for all who read it.. For the black female bodies that are dismissed or violated in a white, patriarchal and racist reality. As an act of restoring power and agency to young black girls in South Africa, I wrote a story about a voiceless girl of colour in search of a sound of her own. For it to be the catalyst that reminds them of the power of the sounds trapped inside them. For the ones with moonlight in their skin.
The story is incredibly special with language that is perfect for the little ones but intrinsically laced with symbolism that is targeted at the older generation of black woman that have felt silenced and voiceless in their lives at some point or another.
There are a multiplicity of reasons as to why this book is so intrinsically important. Not only does it challenge the old fashioned white faced fairy tales- but it bridges the gap and highlights a very real response to Cinderella, Snow White and Beauty and The Beast (just to name a few). In addition to this, Buhle opted to take a different path when it came to the publishing of the book. Just a little background: In all the time I have known this woman, she never once simply followed the crowd- she created her own path and found ways and means to make a true difference. So it comes as no surprise that Buhle chose the least common way of getting a book out there- to self-publish for free download. Even more special is the fact that it is available in English, isiZulu and isiXhosa- truly bridging that lingual barrier gap (fitting considering the entire concept of the book relying on being heard). All of this was made possible by the help of her phenomenal team, Red Bull Amaphiko and the NPO KaMatla Productions. Amazingly, the project was completed within 3 weeks- which is quite a feat- especially for an up and coming writer.
The sincere smile that accompanied our discussion on this children’s book gave me insight into how deeply the issues of feeling voiceless is in our South Africa. The fairy-tale takes a little black girl and makes her the protagonist- dealing with layers of complex issues that are beautifully expressed in simple language. There are definite hints of Buhle in the story which is evident due to the fact that the book was written, initially, as a personal story for her Godmother- completely based on their family. The emphasis on filling the gap of the voiceless creates a realm where this story is not reserved for children only but any black woman that has felt voiceless and silenced in her life. On how the principle of self-publication came to her, she beamed with pride and explained that she put out the title of the book “A Girl Without A Sound” on her social media and within minutes there were hundreds of responses of people that wanted to get the book. This is when it became very real and evident that this book needed to reach the masses, and quickly. Self-publication was the only option and it has been so worth it she said with the sincerest of smiles.
I won’t give away too much of the story as it is so incredibly worth downloading and sharing with the world. But I do feel we have an obligation to share these fairy tales with unequivocal messages to our youth. The future generation of our country deserves a shot at feeling accepted and the bravery to push racial boundaries and embrace diversity. This is an example of a true step forward- and by such a young, up and coming woman. It is so inspiring. The responsibility that falls upon our shoulders in KwaZulu Natal- is to get this book to the overwhelming number of black females that are within our reach (and beyond). This is ushering in a chance to open up and share the promise for a future undivided.
The book is available for free download at http://www.girlwithoutasound.com/. The sincere message accompanied with beautiful designed artwork shows us a glimpse into a very bright future where woman are proud and strong enough to speak out and be heard. The time is now.
Quote to maybe be placed separately:
“I wrote it for all women of colour who have ever felt silenced. So it is from me, who was once a black little girl, but for all of us.”- Buhle Ngaba
Image 1: www.thedailyvox.co.za
Image 2: witsvuvuzela.com
Image 3: https://res.cloudinary.com
Image 4: http://10and5.com/
Image 5: abovewhispers.com
Image 6: zovuyomputa.blogspot.com
Image 7: http://www.bubblegumclub.co.za/
Image 8: https://res.cloudinary.com (I like this pic of Buhle best)
Image 9: misszethuzulu.wordpress.com (larger version of image 1)
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