Last week we found out that the empowering children’s story The Girl Without A Sound by Buhle Ngaba is being translated into two more languages, IsiXhosa and IsiZulu. The Girl Without A Sound was written to create a new narrative for little girls. For so long, fairy tales and adventures have idealised blonde-haired and blue-eyed princesses. This book reclaims storytelling: the heroine of this story is a young black girl with no voice, in search of her own sound. The story is compelling, with beautiful visuals and now that isiXhosa and isiZulu versions are available online, it’s sure to become a South African classic. We caught up with Buhle to chat about the news:
Last year in an interview, you said that you hope that this book would serve as a call to action. Almost a year later, do you think that hope has manifested into reality?
I think my hope did manifest into reality and that’s illustrated by the fact that we’re still here. That is through the momentum of people being inspired by the book and taking it upon themselves to encourage its movement around the country. Not only that, but we’ve also got the book translated into IsiXhosa and IsiZulu via Nali’Bali, on top of releasing a second edition with new graphics all in the space of a year.
Lastly, we’re creating some of the platforms for those looking to answer the call to action in several ways, including my NPO (KaMatla) The Girl Without A Sound – Lit and Loud workshops for young females. These are to encourage young girls to find their own voices and use them as a tool against a world that doesn’t prioritise the girl child’s dreams. The journey continues and now the hope is to get the book into the hands of as many children as possible.
Why do you think the fact that the book is now available in two additional South African languages is so important for our country?
As proof of the validity and importance of each individual being given the opportunity to not only tell their own story, but also, in a language that is home to you.
What are your thoughts on the success of the book now that it has been a while?
My thinking is that the book can only be regarded as ‘successful’ when it’s ‘in action’. What I mean is, it’s most valuable when it’s in the hands of children so that’s the next part of the journey. Making sure that the book sells so that we can keep looking to translate it further, print it and spread its message. The book is available for order at Girlwithoutasound.com for R250 – R75 of that goes towards a book for a girl in need. We have to sell books so that we can keep making them, and that’s how people can support the #booksforblackgirls movement.
Do you have anything lined up for the near future?
The next steps for The Girl Without A Sound are really exciting. For August, there’s the national tour of The Girl Without A Sound through reading-club visits with Nali’Bali, a series of university lectures and the ‘Lit and Loud’ workshops for high-school learners in collaboration with Grounded Media and Disorient Media. As for me, I’m off to Amsterdam next month to perform in Nadia Davids’ new play What Remains, as well the Cape Town season. For next year, I have my eyes set on some film.
In a country where reading culture still needs to be nurtured and where access to quality literature is still severely lacking for many people, Buhle and her creative team are changing the status quo and helping usher in a new generation of avid readers and critical thinkers. We caught up with the writer to celebrate this news.
The book was written by Buhle, with the visuals created by photographer Neo Baepi, illustrator Thozama Mputa and designers Ryan Haynes and Lisa Robertson. You can follow Buhle on social media to keep up to date with the latest news about the book and other exciting things her and her team are getting up to.