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Mbongeni Ngema

Mbongeni Ngema

Mbongeni Ngema (born 10 May 1955) is a South African writer, lyricist, composer and director, born in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal (near Durban). He started his career as a theatre backing guitarist.His ex-wife is actress Leleti Khumalo. Leleti who received a 1988 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Sarafina!; as well as starring as the leading role in South Africa's first Oscar-nominated film/move, Yesterday.He co-wrote the multi-award winning Woza Albert!.HistoryBorn in Verulem 1955 and raised in the heart of Zululand Mbongeni Ngema has distinguished himself as a renowned playwright, screenwriter, and librettist. He is best known as the writer of the internationally acclaimed and award-winning musical Sarafina which was nominated for 5 Tony Awards, and later nominated for the prestigious Grammy awards. The musical won 11 NAACP Image Awards enjoyed a two year run on Broadway, toured the USA, Europe, Australia and Japan and was later adapted into a feature film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo and Mariam Makeba.Mbongeni Ngema’s has a string of blockbusters which include his award-winning and internationally revered Woza Albert, Township Fever (1990), which travelled from the Market Theatre to the USA the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Majestic Theatre; Mama (1995), Asinamali (1996), Maria Maria (1997), The Zulu – the musical (1999), 1906 Bhambada The Freedom Fighter, The House of Shaka (2005) and The Lion of the East (2006).In 1998, Mbongeni Ngema was inducted in the New York “Walk of Fame” in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Manhattan, New York City as one of the revered writers of the 21st century. In 2001 during the African Renaissance festival, his name was engraved on the entrance of the City Hall in Durban alongside those of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Thambo, Miriam Makeba and other heroes of the liberation struggle.As a librettist, Mbongeni Ngema has written the music soundtrack for Sarafina - the movie and produced the movies soundtrack alongside Quincy Jones. He has composed several music albums including the famous and locally loved album Stimela SaseZola. Ngema has written and arranged numerous songs as well as arranged music for artists such as Michael Bolton. He was also one of the vocal arrangers for The Lion King, Disney’s animated film. For this, he received a multi-platinum award for sales in excess of 6 million copies. He subsequently won the Grammy Award for the movie adaptation. Woza My Fohloza, the new millennium song and several albums of his musicals, are on Ngema’s librettist list.In 1997, Mbongeni Ngema was appointed as a visiting lecturer at the University of Zululand to teach his unique artistic technique and subsequently produced the first CD which the University’s music department released. In 2003 he was appointed as Artistic Director for the 2003 Cricket World Cup and in 2004 appointed as one of the organisers of the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of South Africa’s democracy. He has been entrusted by the KZN Department of Arts, Sports and Recreation for establishing and managing the recording studio and record company, The KZN Music House managed by his company Committed Artists.Several books and academic work have been written about Mbongeni Ngema and his celebrated works. The list includes Nothing Except Ourselves by Laura Jones (USA), The Best of Mbongeni Ngema, The man and his music by Isabel Cooke (RSA), An investigation into the creation and interpretation in Mbongeni Ngema’s intra-cultural Theatre – N.O. Sabelo (UKZN Thesis).In his recent personal grandeur, Mbongeni Ngema has tapped into his own richly-nurtured background of traditional story-telling, learned as a small child from his great-grandmother. He has created his spell-binding one-man show which melds memories of his childhood, spent in the heart of Zululand, with the wealth of his heritage, bringing vividly to life the historic panoply of the Zulu nation. The Zulu has and continues its triumphant tours around South Africa filling theatres all around the country and set to soon tour abroad.Mbongeni Ngema prides himself for having been in the linage of the warriors Mbandama and Sigcwelegcwele kaMhlekehleke of the Ngema Clan who led the Ingoba Makhosi regiment a pivotal regiment which defeated the British armies at the Battle of Isandlwana the Anglo Zulu war 22nd January 1879.To add to the growing list of accolade, Ngema has recently been conferred with an honorary doctorate from the Good Shepherd College of Religion, Culture and skills training. This prestige was in honour and recognition of Ngema’s service to South African music and on-going impact in the arts sector.FeaturingMbongeni Ngema has participated in a song called Take this song, recorded in featuring with the Reggae band Third World.ProductionsAsinamali (1987)Sarafina! (1988)Magic at 4 AM (1993)Circle Of Life (African voices) (1995)Mama (1996)Sarafina! 2 (1997)Nikeziwe (2005)The House of Shaka (2006)Lion of the East (2009)Take this song in collaboration with the Reggae Band Third WorldThe Zulu (2013)Honors and awards1987 Tony Award - Asinamali! was nominated for Best Direction of a Play1988 Tony Award - Sarafina! was nominated 5 times for Best Choreography, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Actress in a Musical1988 Grammy Award - Sarafina! was nominated for a Grammy Award1988 NAACP Image Awards - Sarafina! the musical won 11 NAACP Image Awards in several categoriesGrammy Award - The Lion King, Disney Animated Film he won a Grammy Award for vocal arrangements1998 New York Walk of Fame - Dr. Ngema was inducted in the New York "Walk of Fame" in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Manhattan, New York City2001 City Hall - Dr. Ngema his name engraved on City Hall Entrance in Durban alongside Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Miriam MakebaIn 2004 he was voted 92nd in the Top 100 Great South Africans.2008 Living Legend Award - he was honoured with a Living Legend Award by the Ethekwini Municipality, Durban, Kwa-Zulu NatalHonorary Doctorate - Dr. Ngema was conferred an Honorary Doctorate the Good Shepherd College2013 Lifetime Achievement Award - He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award Simon Mabhunu Sabela Film Awards2013 SAMRO Wawela Awards - He received an Inaugural Recognition Award at SAMRO's Wawela Awards


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