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Welcoming remarks by eThekwini Municipality mayor, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda at the funeral service of Mbongeni Ngema, 5 January 2024

Date: 2024-01-19 09:37:26

Welcoming remarks by eThekwini Municipality mayor, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda at the funeral service of Mbongeni Ngema, 5 January 2024

• Programme Director;
• Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture: Mr Zizi Kodwa;
• KwaZulu-Natal Premier: Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube
• MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and Chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Siboniso Duma;
• All MECs Present  
• All Councillors Present
• The Ngema Family
• The Creative Industry
• Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me take this opportunity to welcome you all to this final send-off of one of the country’s most prolific playwright and a genius of his craft, Mr Mbongeni Ngema. This is also an opportunity to celebrate the life of this giant - our beloved comrade and revolutionary, uMadlokovu.
Ladies and gentlemen, we were deeply saddened to learn about the untimely death of this internationally acclaimed pioneer who used his artistic talent to fight for the liberation of this country. I am reminded, amongst many of his plays, of Woza Albert and the award-winning musical Sarafina which portrayed the brutality that was unleashed by the apartheid regime to black people.  
When Sarafina was adapted to a film and released in 1992, Ngema’s work reached the wider world audience and helped galvanise global solidary in the fight against the brutal apartheid government.
Therefore, as we mourn this colossal loss, we also remember the contribution Mbongeni Ngema has made in the creative sector and his ability to inspire others. Many artists today who have become household names were trained by him. As his work gained popularity even internationally, he became one of the ambassadors of the country globally.
Thus, his passing is not only a loss to the Ngema family but to the creative industry and the country as a whole. We would like to thank the Madlokuvu family for allowing us to share their son, brother and father. Umsebenzi waleliqhawe uyohlala ingunaphakade. Siyethemba ukuthi izizukulwane ezizayo zizosika iphethini emsebenzini wakhe.
We strongly believe that the most appropriate way of preserving his legacy will be to forge a strong partnership between government, the private sector and the creative industry to grow the sector. It is when we have a sustainable creative industry that upcoming artists will realise their potential.
Programme director, as we celebrate 30 years of freedom this year, we must work towards consolidating the democratic gains that Mbongeni Ngema and many freedom fighters gave their lives for. We can say without a doubt that through their relentless efforts, South Africa is now better than what it was before 1994.
While Ngema was instrumental in documenting life experiences of Black people in townships during apartheid, we want to challenge the creative sector to continue telling the story because it is the only way we will be able to preserve our history.
We are acutely aware that while great strides have been made to change the lives of the people of this country for the better, a great deal still needs to be done. It is the generation of Mbongeni Ngema that helped us to achieve political freedom in our lifetime. Our task now is to take the baton, organise ourselves and work for the common goal of achieving economic freedom in our lifetime.
As a revolutionary, Mbongeni Ngema was part of the struggle to ensure that Black people and Africans in particular are not pariahs in the land of their forefathers. Therefore, in his honour, we must continue to work towards the implementation of one of the fundamental principles of the Freedom Charter that land shall be shared amongst those who work it.
With these remarks, once again we wish to welcome you all and let us continue to celebrate that life of this son of the soil. Speaking about death, former president Nelson Mandela said, “Death is inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace…”
With these wise words from Madiba, let us remember uMadlokovu for the positive impact he has had in our lives and celebrate the wonderful memories he has left us with.
Sithi emndenini wakwaNgema, izihlobo, abangani kanye nozokwabo endimeni yobuciko – akwehlanga lungehlanga. Lala ngokuthula qhawe lamaqhawe.