Entertainment industry mourns ‘Sarafina!’ star

South African playwright and actor Mbongeni Ngema (68) was killed in a head-on car crash on Wednesday night while returning from a funeral at Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.

Shortly after Ngema’s death, the singer’s family issued an official statement.

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

The theatre producer was best known for his role as Sabela in the 1992 movie ‘Sarafina!’, which he co-wrote.

He was also known for the award-winning ‘Woza Albert!’.

Ngema was born in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, in 1955, and started his illustrious career as a theatre backing guitarist.

Over the years, he became well known for his plays, which reflected the resilience of black South Africans under apartheid.

As news of Ngema’s death flooded social media, his industry colleagues took the opportunity to share fond memories of him.

Putco Mafani, the station manager at Rhythm FM, posted a picture of the two alongside a note, reading: “Mbongeni Ngema was a World Music Icon.”

Gauteng member of the executive council for health and wellness, Nomantu Ralehoko, said: “His passing is a heartbreaking reminder of the fragility of life, especially during moments meant for celebration and reflection.”

TV host and entertainment reporter Jen Su shared their first interview at the Cannes Film Festival, and wrote: “RIP Mbongeni Ngema – a true inspiration and talent, who will always be in our hearts.”

While paying tribute to her friend, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle revealed that Ngema composed the jingle for her ‘Felicia Show’.

In September this year, Ngema’s latest theatre production, ‘Black’, premiered at the Theatre of Marcellus at Emperors Place in Gauteng.

With a cast of 30 performers, dancers and a 10-piece band, Ngema’s life story was told. – IOL

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