Former president Jacob Zuma has bemoaned Mbongeni Ngema’s untimely death, saying it has robbed him and others a stage play the theatre icon, actor and musician was to put together about the colourful potential life.
Zuma was speaking at a packed memorial service at Durban’s Playhouse on Wednesday. He revealed they were set to finalise details about the play after the Christmas holidays.
Ngema begged me
“For the longest time Ngema had been begging me, trying to convince me to his idea of writing a play about me. Initially I refused but later relented after he reached out to MaNgema (one of Zuma wives).
“Knowing his capabilities I trusted he would come up with a good job. I am sad that plan won’t materialise anymore now that he’s gone without saying goodbye. We had arranged to meet after the Christmas festivities to finalise everything,” said Zuma.
The former states man arrived at the memorial service venue to loud cheers and ululation while the proceedings were underway.
Zuma could not pass up the opportunity to promote the political party he is linked to, MK Party.
“During one of our chats with Ngema I registered my unhappiness about the current political state in the country and told him that I’m thinking of recharging my batteries and dusting myself up.
“It’s a pity he won’t be able to see which direction I’m taking now,” said Zuma, drawing a rousing applause from the mourners.
Looking on were ANC big guns KZN premier Nomusa Dube, provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma and MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane.
Ngema’s old buddy Vusi Mvelase described the Sarafina! creator as more of a politician than an artist.
Mbongeni worked with Winnie Mandela
“What some people may not know is that Mbongeni was a politician who worked closely with the late Mama Winnie Mandela to take young men and women to Lusaka. They would come to Committed Artists to be trained as if they are going to be part of Sarafina and in no time they would disappear and no one would know their whereabouts.
“They were assisted by Ngema to cross the border to be trained to be part of Umkhonto Wesizwe,” said Mvelase.
Ngema’s proteges gave him a befitting tribute by performing songs from Sarafina! and Asinamali musicals.
Also in attendance were members of the multiple Grammy award winning isicathamiya group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Other music artists included Mbuso Khoza, Mfiliseni Magubane, Mondli Ngcobo. Baby Cele, Simphiwe Majozi and Bheki Mkhwane were actors who graced the occasion.
Ngema, who died in a car accident in Lusikisiki in Eastern Cape last week aged 66, will be laid to rest on Friday. He has been accorded a special provincial funeral category 2. The funeral service will be held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre.