Zana Masombuka, a.k.a, Ndebele Superhero, is a young Johannesburg based creative director who draws inspiration from her upbringing in rural KwaNdebele, in a small town called Siyabuswa.
She is a graduate of International Studies at Stellenbosch University, where she learnt the art of critical thinking, as well as the importance of globalization and how it continues to impact Africa.
Her art expresses much more than beauty. Zana describes it as art which speaks to Africa’s active role in the next wave of a new global phenomena, where African artists aim to pioneer the stories being written about their continent and its people, which is fundamental to the preservation of their heritage.
The overarching theme of her work explores the convergence of the human experience with the modern world, and how this impacts culture and tradition; especially in Africa.
Her work is inspired by the emotive vibrancy of the Ndebele people as well as the Ndebele culture. It is deep rooted in the recreation of the African identity, with a focus on the Ndebele culture. It explores how Africans from all industries are paving the way for themselves as well as future generations.
Zana Masombuka has showcased her work with the Julie Miller Art Institute for their Winter Art Collective’18 and the Spring Art Collective’18 exhibitions; as well at the J&B Hive Braamfontein, as a part of the “Friends Of King Zimela” exhibition in 2018.
She has also exhibited with Inaugural Edition of the Underline Show’19 at the Museum Of African Design. She was invited to speak at the 2019 Antenna Festival as part of the top 20 Antenna Global graduates; hosted by Dutch Design Week and Design Indaba in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
You can view her work at https://www.ndebelesuperhero.com/work
She also sells her art on Artsy.
In our interview with Zana, we explore her origin story and passion for the Ndebele culture.
Hello Zana and thank you for participating in this Q&A Session. We would like to start by exploring your cultural background. What was it like growing up in Siyabuswa, South Africa?
Zana: Growing up in Siyabuswa was quite an exciting experience. Imagination and creativity played a huge part in my overall upbringing. My friends and I spent most of our time outdoors, playing, exploring and creating. If I wasn't playing with my friends, I was in the garden with either one of my grandparents, learning, experimenting, observing stillness and simply BEING.
What was your first experience with art and why have you chosen to become an Artist.
Zana: The Ndebele culture is a very expressive and artistic culture. Art is an extension of our essence. Therefore I can't necessarily single out a moment when I decided to "become an Artist" because art and expression were embedded into the essence of my being, way before the manifestation of my birth.
How much influence does your cultural roots have on the type of art you create?
Zana: My culture has a very important role in the type of art that I create. Art in my culture also functions as a conversational tool to all other living beings that we share this planet with. Therefore, I'm constantly drawing from the essence of the value system in the work I create, and in my interpretation of the world I live in.
You are called the Ndebele Superhero. What’s the origin story of this name?
Zana: The origin of the name "Ndebele Superhero" came after my brother's initiation, which I decided to document. I liked the idea of superhero, which is usually someone who is an outsider and decides to pave their own path, and write their own stories. There is so much power in being anchored in yourself, and choosing to exist loudly, in a space where your people are made to exist on the margins.
What message or story does your artwork aim to tell?
Zana: My works aims to explore the evolutionary process of a living culture, through the perspective of a young 21st century Ndebele woman.
In general what impact can art have in modern Africa, and at the same time in preserving African culture for the future generation?
Zana: I believe that art acts as a bridge between the known and unknown. I believe that its essence exists beyond the time/space quantum. It is an energy that artists channel to propel not only their experience, but the stories of their lineages. I believe that modern Africa is a springboard for where we see ourselves in the collective futures that we are building.
Before concluding this interview what advice do you have for new and aspiring female artists in Africa?
Zana: My advice for new and aspiring female artists in Africa is this: "The art has awakened, freedom can be created".
Thank you Zana for participating in this Q&A session. We wish you all the best.
Zana: Thank you for having me.
(English Translation: Let it be abundant)