mbongeni ngema laid to rest

In a heartfelt ceremony today, a gathering of family, friends, government officials, political leaders, and members of the creative community came together to bid farewell to the legendary Mbongeni Ngema.

His contributions to arts is celebrated globally.

Mbongeni Ngema, a true icon in the arts, was hailed for his artistic genius, leaving a mark that resonated worldwide.

The mayor of Durban praised Ngema, acknowledging him as a craft genius, having shaped the careers of numerous artists who have since become household names.

Ngema’s work played a pivotal role in documenting the experiences of black individuals during the apartheid era, contributing significantly to the struggle for a better life.

The mayor urged the community to carry forward Ngema’s important work, emphasizing the lasting impact he will have on future generations.

Nhlanhla Ngema, the brother of Mbongeni, emotionally conveyed his thoughts, describing him as more than just a brother but a guiding light and a source of strength.

MaGumede, Mbongeni Ngema’s wife, found herself unable to articulate her grief, and Brother Vusimuzi Gumede spoke on her behalf, expressing the profound loss of a beloved husband and mentor.

The funeral featured a moving performance by Committed Artists a group founded by Ngema and the original cast of Sarafina, with attendees dancing and singing to honor the life of the true legend.

The iconic “Istimela sase Zola” resonated throughout the venue, creating a memorable atmosphere of celebration.

Read | Bongeni Ngema’s Family Decides After Drama Over Preferred Burial Place

Mbongeni Ngema’s impact extended beyond his artistic endeavors, as evidenced by his active involvement in two significant projects.

In 2021, he advocated for an independent institution, leading to the establishment of his college his application was approved in june 2023. Plans for his academy were set in motion during a strategy session and his academy was to be opened in April 2024 in Durban city centre.

Ngema also envisioned the “Mbongeni Ngema Museum” to honor artists like Brenda Fassie, Mama Miriam Makeba, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and many artists in Africa.

As the funeral concluded, it became evident that Mbongeni Ngema’s influence was immeasurable. His legacy will live on in the hearts of those he inspired, and his vision for the arts will continue shaping the creative landscape for years to come.

Chiko Twala, representing the creative arts industry, emphasized the importance of uniting artists in honoring Ngema. Twala shared Ngema’s deep concern for the violence between ANC and Inkatha, leading to collaborative efforts for a peace project with Twala and Duma Ndlovu. Despite his ANC membership, Ngema spoke out against corruption within the party.

Twala proposed naming the Playhouse after Dr. Mbongeni Ngema, envisioning it as a fitting tribute to Ngema’s contributions to the arts and his quest for peace.

Nomagugu Simelane, speaking for the ANC, paid tribute to Ngema as a larger-than-life cultural icon and visionary storyteller. Simelane highlighted Ngema’s bravery in challenging the apartheid government, enduring detention for his activism. She also recalled the tragic fate of Ngema’s colleague, Jeff Shongwe.

The Minister of Sport, Arts, and Culture acknowledged Ngema as both an artist and a veteran of the freedom struggle. Plans were discussed with the Playhouse to potentially name the venue after Ngema or erect a statue in his honour.

Premier Noma Dube of KwaZulu-Natal praised Ngema’s greatness and highlighted his transformative journey. Dube acknowledged Ngema’s advocacy against gender based violence and willingness to assist others.

She concluded by noting that Ngema’s masterpiece, Sarafina, would likely continue to be performed for generations, solidifying his enduring impact on the world of theater.


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