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The Nqobile behind Nqobile

06 September 2021
We talk to Nqobile Khumalo, the actress who plays Nqobile in Mzansi Magic's hottest monday drama by the same name.
Screenshot 2021 09 01 at 20

#NqobileMzansi has been keeping viewers on the edge of their seats either excted by the story of a young oprressed woman coming into her own or frustrated by the loyalty that seems to be holding her back. One thing is for sure, Monday night at 8PM have never been the same since the show hit Mzansi Magic screens.

Viewers have been gripped by the relvant storyline as they step into a world that explores gender based violence, fighting for one's happiness and career and toxic relationships. We spoke to the incredible and beautiful actress behind the character Nqobile about the importance of such a meaningful show and what it means for her. Spoiler alert: The show is not named after her!

1. What drew you to the story of Nqobile and portraying this character? 

You know in South Africa. We've struggled with many things: We struggled with an oppressive government; we are still struggling with the financial freedom of many groups of people; but today, most importantly, women are struggling to stay alive, to stay alive in relationships that are meant for loving. And that is the importance of the story and that is why I had to tell the story.

What drew me to Nqobile is how true the theme is for myself and for so many women in this country, and unfortunately in the world. The story of Nqobile carries secrets, truths, injustices, misunderstandings and misconceptions which play out in so many households in so many families. There's a fear sometimes in creating art that we have to not penetrate devastating circumstances because we don't want people to be triggered, but femicide and gender based violence has become a pandemic in this country, and somebody needs to say something or do something so that we can find a solution.

So I'm drawn to the story [and] I'm drawn to this character because it is the unfortunate biography of our lives. It is one of the most important stories that ought to be told [and one] we should be telling these days because the story describes the struggle of our lives, in this time. 

2. What do you want women to get out of the story?

My highest hopes for the influence of this show [and] the influence of the story is for women to be reminded that they are free to choose. They are free to love themselves and make decisions that protect them because we are worthy of all the splendour this world has to offer. And anything, any human being, any institution that is going to create circumstances that result in the opposite of that, we have the right to remove ourselves from.

So I want women to not learn, but remember that they have the freedom to choose, that they are blessed to choose. To remember that they are free and blessed and worthy as they are: The way we were born.

Our worth doesn't come from a relationship, from the identity of a family, from a job, from a friendship; we are worthy, as we are, as we were born, as God created us and our relationships and our businesses and our friendships and our lifestyles need to reflect this truth. In order for us to live fulfilling lives. You always have a choice to protect yourself, to do what is necessary to protect what you love. That is one of the influences that I hope this show has.

3. What do you hope men might learn from watching the show?

I hope that men realize the significant role of a woman in a family, business, friendship. [I hope] that our role is not undermined any longer because [of] being seen as a weaker vessel and being treated as a weaker vessel is where toxic masculinity begins to become a deadly issue. We have mild variations of racism and sexism operating in our society on a daily basis. But we have a deadly problem in South Africa, where women are being killed in relationships, being killed in spaces where they should be safe and that is a reason to call out men and task them with the responsibility to deal with their mental health. To deal with what they think is problem solving in a household disagreement in a situation where perhaps disappointment, tragedy or heartbreak has come and the way that they respond to those things.

I personally believe that black men in particular, do not have a space to be vulnerable or to be weak or to be understood and to be listened to about the things that they struggle with. But that is their responsibility to deal with themselves and the way that they process emotions and the way that they process the negative events that occur in life.

Women can do so many things, but we cannot do anything if we are oppressed. So we need our men to see our value, that what we contribute is essential and we need them to take care of their mental health. So that frustration, anxiety, sadness and grief does not manifest in these violent ways. We need our men to take care of themselves so that they can lead our families and societies, so that they can build with us and us with them. Men need to deal with their mental health: As individuals and in groups as men leading our families, as men leading most of our business sector.

We need men to get back in touch with their humanity, [and for them to] get back in touch with God in them. Because femicide and gender based violence is the manifestation of an evil of a very weak and wicked thing, operating inside a human being.

4. The Mzansi Magic audience loves but they are also frustrated by her loyalty and love for Simo and his family. Would you say this should be trait that we should treasure aboutor is it something that holds her and many other women back?

One of my favourite performers once said, “What nourishes me also destroys me”; and I think this is true for women when it comes to how hard we love, how unconditional our love is and how loyal we become once we have committed to taking care of something committed in a relationship or committed in marriage. And I understand that the audience is, of course, extremely frustrated with the way that Nqobile loves, and is loyal to her husband to her family, to the promises that she made to Bab’ George, but the audience must not forget that Nqobile doesn't know a lot of the things that are happening behind her back. So, it is perfectly normal for them to be as frustrated as they are.

So I hope they continue watching so that they can see what happens in the story and how things unfold.

I think love and loyalty have a place and a time. And I think they are things that should expire should certain circumstances change. I think that marriage vows are a very serious thing. I myself, the actress has never been married, I don't have children, but I can only imagine that one day when I do say wedding vows, how meaningful that vow will be to me because that is an oath made before God; to say till death do us part. In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer. It is the biggest promise and I think to break that takes a lot. But taking a lot, doesn't mean that it shouldn't happen. You know when people make those vows, I don't think they're thinking that gender based violence and financial manipulation [are things] that are going to occur. So if you're loyal in the wrong place, it will hurt you. If you love the wrong person, it will hurt you. And that is of course something that we all have to keep in mind, and unfortunately something that some people experience. 

The audience has every right to be frustrated. I'm frustrated!...but carry on watching.

5. Recently, it was revealed that Black Widow is’s grandmother. She is a complex character, at first viewers found her violent and uncompromising but as the story progressed, we see her as assort of rogue champion for and supporter of voiceless women or abused women. How important do you think it is for women to know who they are and the lineage of women they come from? What do you think it means forthat her grandmother is someone like Black Widow?

I think it's very important to know where you come from your lineage, your heritage, because in the case of uNqobile, if she had any idea who her grandmother is, it would change everything, absolutely everything, it's so important.

I can't [fully] answer this without spilling story 😩😂

7. Viewers were ecstatic to see Ayanda Borotho’s short cameo on the show, and it was fitting given how her character on Isibaya Phumelele, also grew/blossomed from the concrete of her in-laws oppression. How has it been drawing from her as a woman who is outspoken about, even in her personal capacity, women finding their voice, independence and choosing themselves? 

She is honestly incredible. Breathtakingly beautiful inside and out and so intentional with what she's doing. She's one of those people where it really seems like the personality, the career, the lifestyle, how she presents herself is all in sync and all leading towards the same destination goal or purpose. I'm really blessed to have come across a woman like that and to have worked with a woman like that. I absolutely don't take it for granted and I'm inspired.

8. Nqobile’s entire business strategy for turning the family business around in the show is built on women. Would you say that even in the world of film and television, an investment in women in the various roles that brings shows like Nqobileto life, is the most future-forward strategy? 

I absolutely agree with this because the mind of a woman is a phenomenal thing; the ideas, the concerns of women brings a fresh approach to the many problems that we have in this world. You know we live in an incredible world but we also have overwhelming issues, and a lot of [those] things the world doesn't know what to do about. I think that putting more women in leadership positions, is something that is mandatory to our survival ,to our progress and to the excellence of our innovations. We need women's ideas to manifest in the real world. We cannot live without the brilliance of a female mind. So absolutely in film, and in every other industry as well.

We have to know – How did it come to be that your name is also the title of the show? Just coincidence or is there a really funny story to it? 

I wish to there was a story here but honestly it was Nqobile before I came onboard and pure coincidence. One of the coolest things to ever happen at work for me!

To see more of Nqobile on #NqobileMzansi, tune in every Monday at 20:00 becuase things are just getting heated.