Twitter users were left at a loss for words after seeing pictures that made them think the late Brenda Fassie had risen from the dead.
This was after pictures of 29-year-old Bathabile Ngubeni, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late musician, started circulating on the social media network.
It all started when Showbizbee, a London-based film and television production company, announced it would be producing a film based on the life of the late superstar and that the entire cast would be South African. This then gave social media users a platform to nominate potential actors and actresses, and that is how Ngubeni suddenly found herself thrust into the spotlight.
The craze started after Xolani Mokhomong tweeted: “Hi guys my co-worker looks lyk Brenda Fassie” and posted pictures of Ngubeni as proof that she was indeed a clone of the musician.
Many Twitter users agreed with Mokhomong as the post received 4267 retweets and 7330 likes. Many others were shocked at the resemblance, with others suggesting that Fassie was still alive.
Ngubeni, who is originally from the small town of Paulpietersburg in northern KwaZulu-Natal, is a foreign exchange trader.
She said the hype regarding the Brenda search had been overwhelming, but there were definitely similarities and elements of Fassie’s character she could relate to.
“The hype regarding the Brenda search is showing my normal character and how each individual has known me in my life, they are also saying 'it’s about time'.
“Confirmations and words of encouragement have been given everywhere, and people are telling me to audition left, right and centre. I love it and listen, I will audition.” said Ngubeni.
She said although she could dance and sing in her shower very well, she doubted whether she would be able to hold a proper music note without training. But studying marketing, she said, had taught her how to be a brand.
“The Twitter hype literally blew up my ‘brand’ and I’m thankful for the retweets and compliments that were passed. I remember one that asked ‘but can she split’? (do the splits, which the flexible Fassie was famous for while performing). I laughed alone. Ngathi lo akangazi usezwa ngami uzongibona (This one doesn’t know. I’ll just surprise him),” she said, laughing.
Despite the resemblance, there was one question on everyone’s mind: Can Ngubeni act and does she have Brenda’s rock-star tendencies and over-the-top personality?
Tumisho Maponya quickly came to Ngubeni’s defence: “Tupac & Biggie (US rappers) biopics were given to unknown actors who looked like them & they were trained. Can the lady get this role already.”
Sylez Mabuza seemed to agree with Maponya. “She needs to go play the role, end of story. If she can’t act, enrol her at acting school, simple. She has both my votes from both my hands. To all the negative people, everyone is born not knowing anything, they learnt, same goes for her, she will learn to act if she can’t.”
Tido Duchess was also convinced that Ngubeni would give a sterling performance. “I went to high school with her, she had such a bubbly personality. We called her Brenda or Mabrrr.”
However, some people were shocked by Ngubeni’s resemblance to Fassie. Sementhlee wrote: “If Brenda Fassie was my mother, I would be freaked out looking at this woman’s pictures.”
The movie will be titled Brenda: The True Story and will take viewers on a journey from her days in Langa, Cape Town to Soweto up until her rise as an iconic musician.
Filming is expected to begin next month and the movie is set for release later this year.