'My work will outlive me,' says Mbongeni Ngema on longevity

Dr Mbongeni Ngema believes that '100 years from now, people will still be performing Sarafina!'

02 November 2018 - 07:00
By Chrizelda Kekana
Mbongeni Ngema speaks about creating timeless work.
Image: Supplied Mbongeni Ngema speaks about creating timeless work.

Dr Mbongeni Ngema is celebrated all over the world for his work in the film and theatre industry and he reckons that his work, just like that of legendary playwright Shakespeare, will survive for centuries to come.

Speaking to Actor Spaces Mbongeni explained that it was a great feeling to know that his name would never totally vanish.

"My work will outlive me, 100 years from now people will still be performing Sarafina!. It’s fantastic to know that you’ve written work that will never die. That people can give it life beyond yourself."

Mbongeni, whose career spans over three decades said he’s kept his creativity sharp by delving into both film and theatre. He said he strongly believes that the “death” of theatre will be the death of real acting.

He lambasted new school actors who dismiss theatre for fame that comes with television or film work.

"The downside to this is that a lot of those people don’t know how hard it is to work on a play that will have longevity, they think that if you rehearse for four weeks, that’s it! These young people who think they are actors and a lot of them are just models, they have never been trained in acting."

A part of Mbongeni's legacy is the fact that he discovered and mentored a lot of talent currently ruling the acting industry today. The likes of Uzalo’s Baby Cele who has spoken about her wish to do the same thing as Mbongeni.

Baby wants to launch a production company to give young talent a chance like Mbongeni gave her with Sarafina!. She told TshisaLIVE in a previous interview that the one piece of advice she would give to people she mentors is to watch out for fame.

In the same breath of writing work that outlives you, Mbongeni previously spoke to TshisaLIVE that the next generation of actors needs to be more willing to learn from veterans.

"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 out I learnt so much from Gibson Kente. 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."