Minister Zizi Kodwa reflects on the loss of renowned playwright Mbongeni Ngema

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Zizi Kodwa, has expressed sadness at the passing of Dr Mbongeni Ngema.

The Ngema family confirmed that Dr Ngema passed away in a car accident on Wednesday, 27 December. Born in the town of Verulam in KwaZulu Natal, Dr Ngema’s work touched and moved audiences around the world and made an important contribution in telling the South African story. 

Dr Ngema’s work was internationally acclaimed, receiving Tony Award nominations for Asinamali and Sarafina. Additionally, Dr Ngema also received Grammy Award nominations through his work in Sarafina and The Lion King. A testament to his artistic talent, Dr Ngema also acted in film, appearing in the film adaptation of Sarafina and the Oscar-nominated film Yesterday. 

Locally, Dr Ngema received several accolades such as Lifetime Achievement Awards in the South African Music Awards (SAMAs) and the Naledi Theatre Awards. Dr Ngema also contributed greatly to the development of creative arts in communities through his collaboration with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and its agencies such as the Playhouse Company. 

Minister Kodwa says: “With the passing of Dr Mbongeni Ngema, South Africa has lost one of its great playwrights, composers, lyricists, directors, and musicians. Dr Ngema’s work was celebrated in South Africa and internationally.”   

Minister Kodwa adds: “At a critical time in the liberation struggle against apartheid, Dr Ngema took the plays Woza Albert, Asinamali and Sarafina to international stages. These productions not only showcased South African talent, but also narrated to the world the experiences of South Africans who were ostracised and brutalised under apartheid.”

 “In the democratic years, Dr Ngema’s works would reflect the mood, hopes, joy and challenges of life in democratic South Africa. Whether it was through the defiant songs in Sarafina, the determination expressed in songs such as Lizobuya, or the exuberance of songs such as Stimela sase Zola, Dr Ngema’s work did much to foster social cohesion and to express critical moments of South African history through the arts.” 

Minister Kodwa further states, “The passing of Dr Ngema is a significant loss to South African arts. I wish to express my deepest sympathies to the Ngema family, his colleagues, and contemporaries, and to the South African arts fraternity.”

Leave a Reply

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