‘Adequately funding arts is a good start to honour Mbongeni Ngema’

Mbongeni Ngema and musician Matshitshi.

Mbongeni Ngema and musician Matshitshi.

Published Jan 11, 2024


Durban — A call has been made by the chairperson of the parliamentary Committee on Sports, Arts And Culture for adequate funding of the arts to remember fallen arts heroes.

The call comes after playwright and musician Dr Mbongeni Ngema, 68, was laid to rest following a funeral service in Durban over the weekend.

Ngema died in a car crash in the Eastern Cape at the end of December.

Chairperson Beauty Dlulane sent condolences on behalf of the committee to the family and the arts community.

Dlulane said that adequately funding the arts would be the best way to remember the fallen heroes in this sector, with the most recent being Ngema.

“It is not easy to send condolences to the family of someone who has etched himself in history as an artist, struggle veteran, musician, and both a traditional and modern man, playwright, and cultural activist, among others. Mr Ngema was many things to many people. He entertained so many and groomed so many careers,” Dlulane said.

Dlulane said the arts sector will never be the same and that no other person will be able to achieve what Madlokovu (Ngema’s clan name) did during his time.

“Something needs to be done in memory of Mr Ngema and adequately funding the arts will be a good start. He played his role and, importantly, remained Mbongeni. Among his illustrious achievements was immortalising ‘Sarafina!’,” Dlulane said.

May his soul rest in eternal peace, she added.

Meanwhile, during Ngema’s funeral service, fellow musician Chicco Twala called for the renaming of The Playhouse Company in Durban after Ngema.

Minister of Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa said there is a need to establish a system or programme of Recognition and Acknowledgement as part of our vision.

Kodwa said he heard the proposals by Twala and others.

He said that in the days after Ngema’s death, the department had been discussing with the Playhouse the best way to honour the global icon.

“A mere answer is that there cannot be enough recognition to honour people who have made such immense contribution. But one recognition is important. Some of the proposals are to rename the Playhouse, is to rename the Opera Theatre, where most of his productions were done; is to have a statue of him outside the Playhouse,” Kodwa said.

“These are a number of options for you, Madlokovu.”

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube also made a call to Kodwa for the renaming of the theatre.

Meanwhile, producer of the film “Sarafina!” Anant Singh made a video tribute for Ngema before his funeral.

The seven-minute video is produced by Singh and in memory of Ngema.

It includes pictures of Ngema and clips from “Sarafina!” and Ngema speaking on security policeman Sabela, a character in “Sarafina!” Ngema tells the story of the play.

The video also includes snippets of Quincy Jones, an American musician and producer and former president Nelson Mandela.

There is also a clip of a monologue by Ngema on stage.

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