Renowned South African playwright and musician, Mbongeni Ngema, passed away on Wednesday evening, leaving behind a legacy that reflects the spirit of resistance during the tumultuous era of apartheid and the liberation struggle. Ngema, celebrated for his acclaimed works such as Sarafina and Woza Albert, made significant and influential contributions to the arts.

By Staff Writer

The esteemed artist Mbongeni Ngema, recognised for his exceptional abilities as a musician, composer, choreographer, and playwright, has passed away at the age of 68.

The renowned South African playwright and director tragically lost his life in a devastating head-on collision on Wednesday evening while returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki, located in the Eastern Cape.

Ngema passed away while en route to Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital after a truck collided head-on with the Mercedes Benz sedan he was riding in.

His untimely death was confirmed by his grieving family through an official statement.

Ngema, widely celebrated for his significant contributions to the arts industry, met with this fatal accident while travelling back from the sombre occasion. The deadly collision has left the nation in shock and mourning the loss of a true creative genius.

The family’s statement, released shortly after the incident, confirmed Ngema’s passing. The playwright’s passing has sent shockwaves throughout the South African arts community, as well as among his numerous admirers and fans.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved brother, father, husband, and patriot Mbongeni Ngema.

“Ngema was killed in a head-on car accident while returning from attending a funeral in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape this evening. He was a passenger in the vehicle,” read the short statement.

The Ngema family expressed their deep sorrow at his death and mentioned that they would provide information about funeral arrangements soon.

Ngema was born in 1955 in Verulam, outside Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, and was raised in the quaint village of eNhlwathi nestled near the rural town of KwaHlabisa in the northern reaches of the province. He emerged onto the professional scene as a guitar maestro for the theatre.

His name became synonymous with the groundbreaking musical Sarafina and the co-creation of the celebrated Woza Albert, both of which garnered numerous accolades. Furthermore, Ngema’s talent for crafting unforgettable tunes is evident in his composition of the beloved Stimela SaseZola.

In a 2018 interview with TshisaLIVE, Ngema shared his delight in the knowledge that his artistic legacy would endure long after he’s gone. His impact extends to nurturing and guiding numerous South African actors who have since risen to prominence in the entertainment world. He emphasised the importance of aspiring actors being open to learning from seasoned professionals, paving the way for a vibrant and thriving future generation in the industry.

“What frustrates me the most is that young artists don’t want to learn from us who have been in this industry for a while. I remember when I started I learnt so much from Gibson Kente,” he told TshisaLIVE.

“I decided to go live at his house to learn how he wrote music and everything about him. I don’t see enough young people wanting to learn. I feel like the thirst to learn is lacking in today’s generation.”

In 1998, Ngema was recognised for his distinguished contributions as a writer of the 21st century and was inducted into the New York “Walk of Fame” situated in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Manhattan, New York City.

Furthermore, in 2001, as part of the African Renaissance Festival, his name was inscribed on the entrance of Durban’s City Hall, alongside the names of prominent individuals such as former president Nelson Mandela, the late ANC leader Oliver Tambo, esteemed musician Miriam Makeba, and other notable figures of the liberation movement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *