January 05, 2024

I thought someone was playing a bad joke on me

Mbongeni Ngemas widow with her brother

Music and dance were the order of the day as th life of playwright, singer and actor Mbongeni Ngema was celebrated at his funeral held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre Arena in Durban.

Ngema was given a special Provincial Official Funeral Category 2.

Among attendees were his ex-wife Leleti Khumalo, Police Minister Bheki Cele, poet Mzwakhe Mbuli, politician Zweli Mkhize singer Yvonee Chaka Chaka, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to mention a few


An emotional letter read by Vusimuzi Gumede on behalf of Ngema's widow, Nompulelo, said she thought somebody was telling her a bad joke when she heard of his passing.

"I am at pains in accepting the finality this day presents. It is hard for me to accept the reality that I will not see you come through that door anymore. I keep thinking it's a dream that I?ll be awakened from, or perhaps someone playing a joke on me. But then again, the days that have passed following your unexpected passing and serve as confirmation this is indeed not a dream. You have truly found your peace...How do I begin to put together the pieces of my puzzle when the main part, you, are not around? The 17 years you dedicated to our union have given me more than just a husband. You truly did become my best friend, my mentor and a centre that held everything together for me. You were a legend to many, but to me, you will always remain my husband. Thank you for loving me.


His ex-wife, Leleti, said this was a very sad time for everyone who knew Ngema,especially for his family and expressed gratitude to the deceased for discovering and putting her on world stages.

I am here to support uMadlokovu, who basically introduced me to this industry when was a very young girl. I owe a lot to him and unfortunately he has passed on and there's nothing we can do. However, my whole career in this industry is owed to him. He put me to the global map. I'm known throughout the world because of him, he took me from KwaMashu and put me on global stages,she said.


Actor Dumisani Dlamini, popularly known as Crocodile on Sarafina and Chester on Yizo Yizo said he learnt a lot from Ngema.

Whenever we were together I knew I was bound to get words of wisdom. He used to tell me that I shouldn't strive or live to impress people. He told me that everything that came with me was powerful and that I should respect my craft as an actor. There are a lot of projects that he influenced me to work on but lack of funds is a barrier. We could be giving today's kids a chance like Ngema did if we had access to funding.

Dlamini jokingly said he wouldn't have had American singer Doja Cat as a daughter if it wasn't for Ngema's Sarafina.

Kaizer Chiefs legend Jan Malombo Lechaba look back at the memories he shared with Ngema.

"If I start talking about Ngema, it'll take the whole day. He was not an ordinary person to me but we were friends for over 40 years , together with Patrick Ace? Ntshoeleng. Ngema was a Kaizer Chiefs fan, influenced by his uncle China Ngema. Our friendship was sincere to a point that we would spend Christmas at his home in Nhlwathi ,eMahlabathini.

Malombo added that Ngema had done so much.

This man was a writer, composer, a musician, dancer and singer- that's how talented he was. We've lost a giant not only in South Africa but globally. The man has been recognised all over the world, May his soul rest in peace."

Ngema died shortly after being attended by doctors at Adelaide and OR Tambo Memorial Hospital in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape last Wednesday following a car crash involving a truck on the R61.

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