Tributes pour in for veteran playwright Mbongeni Ngema

28 December 2023 - 10:03
By Joy Mphande
Dr Mbongeni Ngema has died. File photo.
Image: Supplied Dr Mbongeni Ngema has died. File photo.

Industry colleagues, friends and fans took to social media on Wednesday night to pay tribute to the late playwright Mbongeni Ngema. 

The 68-year-old, who was also a musician, composer and choreographer, died in a head-on collision on Wednesday evening while returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. A statement shared by the family confirmed the news. 

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved brother, father, husband and patriot, Mbongeni Ngema. He was a passenger in the vehicle.”

Tributes to Ngema flooded social media.

Sport, arts and culture minister Zizi Kodwa and celebrities Lebo M and Khaya Dladla were among those who shared tributes online. 

“I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Dr Mbongeni Ngema, one of South Africa’s great playwrights, directors, lyricists and composers. Dr Ngema’s internationally acclaimed work, from Sarafina! to Stimela sase Zola, told distinctly South African stories and experiences,” Zizi Kodwa wrote. 

“The legendary Bro Mbongeni Ngema has exited the stage. There are so many things I can write about how he influenced a lot of young theatre and dance groups emalokitshini in Bulawayo in the 90s. My favourite stage production from him was The Zulu. I watched It when it toured Europe while I was also on tour and I fell in love with the music, the harmonies, the dancing and the storytelling,” singer and songwriter Vusa Mkhaya wrote.