Dr Mbongeni Ngema’s passing came as a shock to his family and the nation.
Veteran playwright Dr Mbongeni Ngema’s passing came as a shock to his family and the nation. He died in a tragic car accident while returning to Durban from a funeral in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. His son who has been following his footsteps in the realm of music and theatre, hopes to carry on his legacy and honour the late icon.
A GREAT FATHER
The late Dr Mbongeni Ngema’s son, Sabelo Ngema, and his wife and actress Thandeka MaZulu Ngema make up the Durban based duo AfroSoul. To honour his father, the couple will be featuring in Mbuso Khoza’s Isandlwana Lecture -The Musical at the Joburg Theatre from 25 to 28 January 2024. AfroSoul will pay tribute to the late Dr Ngema by singing Ihubo from the Ngema family. “Madlokovu was a great father, he loved children a lot. As a father to me, he really showed me love and support in many different ways. I remember when I was young, he even paid for my gym membership because he wanted me to be fit as an artist,” Sabelo tells ZiMoja. Mbuso Khoza’s Isandlwana Lecture – The Musical will also be their commemoration of their late great-grandfather, Sigcwelegcwele, who was one of the leaders during King Cetshwayo’s army in the battle of Isandlwana.
THE SAD NEWS
Sabelo received the tragic news of his dad’s passing and was in disbelief. “I first got a call from MaGumede about the accident, when we were about to leave from Durban to Port Shepstone to see his condition,” he says. “A call came from one of the ladies they were travelling with telling us about the passing. I can’t explain the feeling.”
Thandeka remembers her father-in-law as one disciplined artist. “Bab’omncane was a very disciplined person and a great teacher, she says. “We would disagree about who to hire or not on his shows, he did not want to let go of the older staff even if they were no longer fit,” she jokes.”He treated me like his own daughter, he enjoyed my meals a lot. When he first heard my voice, he said I reminded him of Mpume Skhakhane who once worked with him and is now in The Lion King. Ubaba knew his music very well and made sure that the craft was always clean and up to standard. We will miss sharing the stage with him, him conducting the band and the choir and also the way loved good food with a lot of chillies. He would add chilies in every meal, even at a restaurant.”
With five albums, AfroSoul draws their strength and motivation from the rich musical and theatre background where they were trained. Their latest single WeMgqibelo has seen much success. “Now we are so excited to be invited to perform in Mbuso Khoza’s Isandlwana Lecture – The Musical. It was such an honour for us when Mbuso proposed that we pay tribute to our father, Dr. Mbongeni Ngema, after his passing,” Sabelo says. “We hope to get some healing through what ubaba loved doing, music and theatre. For the first time after his passing, I will also perform his all-time hit, Stimela SaseZola. The audience can expect a heartfelt and yet jolly performance,” Sabelo adds.