Famous South African producer, composer, and dramatist Mbongeni Ngema, 68, passed away in an automobile accident, according to his family.
“Ngema was killed in a head-on car accident while returning from a funeral he was attending in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape this evening,” his family said in a statement Wednesday. The celebrated playwright was a passenger in the vehicle involved in the crash.
His most famous creation was the Broadway hit Sarafina!, which debuted in 1988. It was adapted into a musical drama starring Whoopi Goldberg in 1992, becoming an international success and being nominated for the Tony and Grammy Awards.
Sarafina! told the story of a young student and how she inspired her peers to fight against racial segregation in apartheid South Africa after her teacher was thrown in jail.
From 1948 until the early 1990s, South Africa was governed by the white minority due to the institutionalized system of apartheid, which discriminated against non-Whites.
Ngema’s body of work included the lauded theatre production Woza Albert, which first showed in 1981 and went on to win more than 20 awards across the world. The political satire explored the second coming of Jesus Christ as a black man, returning to South Africa as a black man.
Tributes to the noted playwright have been pouring in. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa praised the late Ngema in a statement.
“The many productions he created or to which he contributed inspired resilience and pride among us as fellow South Africans and took South Africa and our continent into the theatres, homes, and consciousness of millions of people around the world,” Ramaphosa said Thursday