MARY Twala and Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung. Picture: YouTube Screenshot
MARY Twala and Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung. Picture: YouTube Screenshot

Somizi’s parents Ndaba Mhlongo and Mary Twala hailed as the greatest thespians of all time

By Kedibone Modise Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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South African playwright, filmmaker and television producer Duma Ndlovu has paid a moving tribute to television icons Ndaba Mhlongo and his wife Mary Twala.

Mhlongo and Twala are parents to Mzansi’s celebrated media personality Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung.

Ndaba, who passed away, in 1989, was a renowned actor and choreographer best known for his role of Mshefane in the local, “Inyakanyaka”.

While Twala, the award-winning actress passed away in July 2020 at the age of 80.

Taking to social media yesterday, Ndlovu celebrated the lives of the two “towering giants” of the entertainment industry.

Ndlovu shared snaps of the duo and he wrote on Facebook: “This is the only picture I have with the legendary actor and comedian, Ndaba Mhlongo.

“It is a prized possession that I will cherish for as long as I live.”

The “Muvhango” creator said the photograph was taken during “many events that we hosted for the cast of ”Sarafina!“ in New York in the 1980s.

Reflecting on some of the momentous events that led to the production of “Sarafina!”, one of the many local productions that took the world by storm.

Mary Twala and Ndaba Mhlongo. Picture: Facebook

He said: “In 1984 Mbongeni Ngema and I tried to bring Gibson Kente to the US to revive his classic play, ’How Long’. He refused.

“We then agreed that Ngema should create a play, a musical, and bring it to New York where I had started producing theatre working mostly with the Roger Furman's New Heritage Theatre and the Lincoln Center Theatre.”

“Ngema decided to create the musical ’Sarafina’ and hired Ndaba Mhlongo to choreograph and feature in the musical as a soldier and band leader!”

He explained how Mhlongo cemented his name as an actor when he dazzled the international stages.

“They arrived in the US in 1986 and the experience working with Ndaba Mhlongo was something else. I then created a play, ’Sheila's Day’ and wrote a part for Mary Twala, who had stayed behind when Mhlongo came to New York withSarafina’.”

Ndlovu hailed Mhlongo and Twala as the “most talented thespians to ever grace these shores”.

He said: “Mhlongo was also an amazing comedian at a time when comedy did not have a spotlight shone on the craft.

“He did a number of movies for Heyns Films where he starred as Mshefane, and those films are now classics.

“But it was the work he did with Gibson Kente in almost all the musicals that created a legend out of Kente where Mhlongo was always the front man that got him the attention.

“Today I celebrate this amazing talent and say that we will always miss them.

Twala’s last gigs include the lead role of a widow, in the multi-award winning Basotho film “This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection”, and Beyoncé's visual film “Black Is King”.

Beaming with pride, Ndlovu said: “It is a small wonder that Somizi is such a talent, he is born of two great individuals.”

Meanwhile, the “Idols SA” judge recently took to Instagram to honour his multi-talented father.

He wrote: “I sometimes take for granted or forget whose seed I am … or too humble about it … let me pride myself, I was birthed by the first to ever do it … Ndaba Walter Mhlongo Mshefane to many.”

“I’m the apple and he is the tree,” the star said.

He went on to list his father’s accolades which include being nominated for a Tony Award for Best Choreography for “Sarafina!” on Broadway.

See the full post below.

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