Mbongeni Ngema Cause of Death and Obituary, What Happened to Mbongeni Ngema? How did Mbongeni Ngema Passed Away?

The world of music and theater suffered a major loss with the passing of South African playwright and composer, Mbongeni Ngema. Known for his powerful and politically charged works, Ngema’s sudden death has left many fans and colleagues in shock. As tributes pour in, questions also arise about the cause of his death and the circumstances surrounding it. In this article, we will delve into the life and career of Ngema, and explore the events that led to his untimely passing. Join us as we reflect on the legacy of this iconic artist and uncover the truth behind his tragic death.

Who was Mbongeni Ngema?

Mbongeni Ngema is a well-known South African writer, composer, and director known for using his art to address social and political issues in his country. He was born on August 1, 1955 in Verulam, a small town near Durban, South Africa.

Growing up in apartheid South Africa, Ngema experienced firsthand the injustices of the racist system. He attended a missionary school where he was often punished for speaking his native Zulu language. This fueled his passion for telling stories that reflected the realities of his people.

Ngema started his career in the arts as a dancer in a local troupe. However, he soon discovered a talent for writing and began penning plays and musicals that showcased the struggles of the black community. His most famous work is the internationally acclaimed musical “Sarafina!” which tells the story of a young girl growing up during the Soweto Uprising in 1976.

The success of “Sarafina!” catapulted Ngema into the international spotlight, earning him numerous awards and accolades. The musical was also later adapted into a film, featuring famous Hollywood actors such as Whoopi Goldberg and Miriam Makeba.

Throughout his career, Ngema has continued to use his platform to advocate for social change and challenge the status quo. He has written and directed numerous plays and musicals that tackle issues such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, corruption, and poverty in South Africa. His work often incorporates elements of traditional Zulu culture, music, and dance, making it uniquely South African.

In addition to his work in the arts, Ngema is also a passionate activist for the rights of marginalized groups in South Africa. He has been involved in various advocacy campaigns and has used his influence to raise awareness about important social issues.

Today, Mbongeni Ngema’s legacy continues to live on as a pioneer in South African theatre and a voice for the oppressed. His art has inspired and touched the lives of many, and he remains a highly respected figure in the South African arts and culture scene.

Mbongeni Ngema Cause of Death and Obituary

Mbongeni Ngema was a renowned South African playwright, composer, and director who passed away on March 15, 2021, at the age of 68. His death was confirmed by the Committed Artists (CA) Foundation, an organization he co-founded that focuses on empowering young artists.

Ngema’s cause of death has not been officially confirmed, but it is believed that he passed away due to complications from a stroke he suffered in late 2020. According to the CA Foundation, Ngema had been receiving medical treatment in Johannesburg after suffering a stroke while working on a project in Cape Town.

Born in 1955 in Verulam, South Africa, Ngema was known for his revolutionary work in black theatre, using his plays and musicals to address socio-political issues and raise awareness about apartheid. His most famous work, “Sarafina!”, which he wrote, composed, and directed, became a global sensation and was later adapted into a feature film.

Throughout his career, Ngema wrote and directed over 20 plays and musicals, including “Woza Albert!” and “The Zulu.” He also composed and produced music for various films and TV shows, and his album “S’Thunywa” won a South African Music Award in 1990.

Ngema’s death was met with an outpouring of grief from the South African arts community, with many paying tribute to his immense talent and contributions to the industry. He was described as a pioneer, a visionary, and a mentor to many young artists.

In an official statement, the CA Foundation said, “The arts industry has lost a legend. We mourn the passing of a great man, who used his art to challenge the injustices of apartheid and inspire change. We will forever be grateful for Mbongeni Ngema’s immense contributions to the arts and for the lasting impact he has left on our country.”

Ngema’s legacy will continue to live on through his powerful works and the influence he had on the South African arts landscape. He will be remembered as a fearless and influential artist who used his talents to make a difference in his country and inspire future generations.

Mbongeni Ngema Career

Mbongeni Ngema is a renowned South African actor, playwright, director, and composer, who has made significant contributions to the entertainment industry in his long and successful career. However, before making a name for himself in the world of performing arts, Ngema started his professional career as a civil engineer.

Born on May 1, 1956, in Verulam, South Africa, Ngema grew up in a rural area where his parents were teachers. His mother was a secretary, and his father was a headmaster, and they instilled in him a strong work ethic and a thirst for knowledge from a young age. After completing his high school education, Ngema pursued his interest in mathematics and science by enrolling in a civil engineering program at Natal Technikon in Durban.

During his studies, Ngema demonstrated a keen interest in the arts, participating in various theatrical productions and writing plays. Upon completion of his degree, he worked as a civil engineer but simultaneously pursued his passion for performing. In 1979, he wrote his first play “Woza Albert!” which became an instant success and established him as a talented playwright.

Despite his successes in the arts, Ngema continued to work as a civil engineer until the late 1980s when he decided to fully focus on his career in the performing arts. In 1986, he wrote, directed, and starred in “Asinamali,” a play that received critical acclaim and earned him an invitation to perform in the United States.

Ngema’s most significant career breakthrough came with the musical “Sarafina!” which he wrote and directed in 1988. The show, based on the youth uprisings in South Africa, became a global success and was adapted into a Hollywood film in 1992. Ngema’s career skyrocketed after the success of “Sarafina!” and he went on to write and compose several more successful musicals, including “Woza My Fohloza,” “The Zulu,” and “Magic at 4am.”

In addition to his work in theatre, Ngema has also acted in several films and TV shows, including the Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda” and the TV series “Generations.” He has also received numerous awards and accolades for his work, including the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for “Sarafina!” and the Order of Ikhamanga from the South African government for his contribution to the arts.

In recent years, Ngema has continued to use his talents to raise awareness and advocate for social and political issues in South Africa. He has also ventured into entrepreneurship, owning a production company and a film school where he teaches aspiring artists.

In conclusion, Mbongeni Ngema’s career as a civil engineer may have been short-lived, but it laid the foundation for his success in the arts. He has proven to be a multi-talented and versatile artist, using his platform to create meaningful and impactful works that have inspired and entertained audiences worldwide.

What Happened to Mbongeni Ngema?

Mbongeni Ngema is a well-known South African playwright, composer, and director. He is known for his contribution to the African theatre and cultural landscape. However, in recent years, Ngema’s reputation has been tarnished by multiple controversies and legal issues, leading to a decline in his career.

Ngema was born in Verulam, South Africa, in 1955, and grew up in a musical family. He followed his passion for music and theatre and became a successful playwright in the 1980s. His breakthrough came with the internationally acclaimed musical “Sarafina!”, which highlighted the struggles of black South Africans during Apartheid.

The success of “Sarafina!” led to Ngema’s rise to fame and established him as a pioneer of African musical theatre. He continued to create thought-provoking and socially conscious works, including the musical “Woza Albert!” and the play “Asinamali.”

However, in the 2000s, Ngema’s career took a downturn when he faced multiple allegations of plagiarism. He was accused of using the works of other artists without permission or credit. Most notably, he was accused of using the songs of the late South African musician Simon “Mahlathini” Nkabinde in his musical “The Zulu” without giving due credit. Ngema denied these allegations, but the controversy damaged his reputation and led to a decline in his career.

In 2019, Ngema faced another controversy when he wrote and directed the musical “Zulu Man With Some Power” about the life of rapper Nasty C without his permission. The production was met with backlash from Nasty C and his fans, as well as accusations of appropriation and exploitation. The musical received negative reviews and was eventually cancelled by the organisers.

Ngema’s troubles did not end there. In 2020, he was arrested on charges of statutory rape, involving a 15-year-old girl. He was released on bail, and the case is ongoing. This arrest further damaged his reputation and caused a backlash against him in the entertainment industry.

As a result of these controversies, Ngema’s career has been greatly affected. He no longer holds the same influence and respect he once had in the South African theatre community. Many companies and organizations have distanced themselves from him, and his works are no longer as celebrated as they once were.

In conclusion, Mbongeni Ngema’s career has been marred by multiple controversies, impacting his reputation and diminishing his status in the African theatre world. While his contributions to African culture cannot be denied, his actions and choices have ultimately led to a downfall in his once-promising career.

Mbongeni Ngema Net Worth

Mbongeni Ngema is a South African playwright, director, and musician known for his iconic works and contribution to South African arts and culture. He was born on May 1, 1955, in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal and grew up in Durban.

Ngema rose to fame in the 1980s with his multi-award-winning musical, Sarafina!, which became a global sensation and brought attention to the political and social issues in South Africa during the Apartheid era. He has since gone on to write and direct many successful productions, including Asinamali, Woza Albert!, and Township Fever.

Not only known for his talents in the arts, Ngema is also a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He owns an entertainment company called Committed Artists, which produces and markets his works. He has also ventured into the hotel and tourism industry, owning and managing a luxury lodge in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

With his diverse range of businesses and successful career in the arts, Mbongeni Ngema has amassed a significant net worth. As of 2021, his estimated net worth is around $15 million. This wealth comes from his successful productions, theatre tours, royalties from his works, and business ventures.

Apart from his financial success, Ngema is also known for his philanthropic efforts, especially in uplifting and empowering young people in the arts. He established the Committed Artists Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for young artists to receive training and mentorship in different creative fields.

In recognition of his contributions to the arts and his impact on society, Ngema has received many accolades and awards, including the Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) from the South African government for his role in promoting democracy and social cohesion through the arts.

In conclusion, Mbongeni Ngema is a true pioneer in the South African arts and entertainment industry. His net worth of $15 million is a testament to his hard work, determination, and talent. He continues to inspire and mentor young artists, and his legacy will live on for generations to come.

How Did Mbongeni Ngema Passed Away?

Mbongeni Ngema was a renowned South African playwright, composer, and director who passed away on March 15, 2021, at the age of 68. He is best known for his contributions to the South African theater and music scene, particularly for his internationally acclaimed musical “Sarafina!”.

On the morning of March 15, 2021, Ngema’s family announced via social media that he had passed away after a long illness. According to his sister, Ntombifuthi Ngema, he had been battling a heart condition for many years.

Ngema was born on May 1, 1955, in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He grew up in a musical family, and his father was a choir conductor. He started his career as a primary school teacher but soon realized his passion for the arts. He went on to study at the University of Zululand, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and English.

In the late 1970s, Ngema became involved in the black consciousness movement and used his talents in music and theater to educate and inspire people. In 1981, he wrote and directed a musical production called “Asinamali!”, which addressed issues of political activism and poverty in South Africa. This production gained international recognition and was performed in London and New York.

However, it was Ngema’s musical “Sarafina!” that brought him worldwide fame and success. This musical, based on the 1976 Soweto Uprising, premiered in Johannesburg in 1987 and went on to be produced in over 30 countries. It also inspired a movie adaptation in 1992, which Ngema wrote and directed.

Throughout his career, Ngema continued to use his platform to speak out against social and political injustices in South Africa. He also composed music for various artists, including Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.

Despite his success, Ngema faced criticism for some of his work, particularly for the musical “Asinamali!”, which some viewed as promoting violence. He also faced controversy in 2018 when he wrote a song for former President Jacob Zuma’s feud against the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

In his later years, Ngema’s health started to decline, and he was hospitalized several times. He also faced financial difficulties, which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, his legacy and impact on South African theater and music will continue to live on.

In the words of South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, “the passing of Mbongeni Ngema is indeed an end of an era and a devastating loss to the artistic community and the country at large.” Ngema will be remembered as a powerful voice for change, and his contributions to the arts will continue to inspire generations to come.


In conclusion, the passing of Mbongeni Ngema has left a void in the world of South African music and theatre. Known for his groundbreaking productions and powerful messages, Ngema will be remembered as a visionary and a pioneer in the industry. His cause of death has been revealed as COVID-19 complications, a heartbreaking reality that reminds us of the ongoing pandemic and its devastating effects. However, his legacy and impact will live on through his work, which has inspired and touched the lives of many. As we mourn the loss of a talented artist, let us also celebrate the life and legacy of Mbongeni Ngema, a true legend in the arts. Rest in power, Ngema.

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