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Legendary Playwright Mbongeni Ngema Dies In EC Car Crash

Legendary South African musician, playwright and choreographer, Mbongeni Ngema has passed away.

His family confirmed that Ngema died in a car crash on Wednesday night near Lusikisiki, in the Eastern Cape as he was travelling back from a funeral he attended.

Mbongeni Ngema was born in Verulam in 1955, a town just over 20 kilometres north of Durban.

Ngema first plied his trade as a manual labourer and guitarist before he started acting in theatres in the 1970s.

Little did he know that his passion for performing would catapult him onto the global stage.

In 1981, he co-wrote popular satirical play Woza Albert, which was followed by the musical Asinamali two years later.

Both shows were well received by audiences in America, paving the way for the massive successs of Sarafina in 1987, which told the story of the 1976 Soweto uprising.

In that same year, Ngema was nominated for a Tony award as best director for Asinamali, followed by three more nods as best director, best score and best choreographer for Sarafina as well as a Grammy nomination.

His other bodies of work include the movie adaptation for Sarafina and the choir direction of the animation feature, The Lion King.

In 1998, Ngema was inducted in the New York Hall of Fame as one of the revered writers of the 21st century.

He has also composed several music albums including Township Fever, Laduma, Woza My Fohloza, Jive Madlokovu, where you will find the famous Stimela Sase Zola.

In 2014, Ngema received a lifetime achievement award from the Naledi Theatre Awards.

His family says he will be remembered as an artist of note for his work that reflected the spirit of resistance during the liberation struggle.