Mbongeni Ngema, a 68-year-old South African writer, producer, and composer, passed away in a tragic vehicle accident, according to his family.
Ngema gained widespread recognition for writing the popular show Sarafina!, which debuted on Broadway in 1988.
This stirring show was later transformed into a musical drama in 1992, starring Whoopi Goldberg, to great international acclaim and Tony and Grammy Award nominations.
Sarafina was a young black South African struggling for freedom during the apartheid. While she has remained relatively silent in her opposition of the racist government in her country, the movement to make the language of Afrikaans the official language in her school
Sarafina! told the story of a little girl who, after her teacher was imprisoned during South Africa’s apartheid era, mobilized her classmates to fight racial segregation.
Apartheid, a pervasive system of racial inequality, guaranteed that South Africa’s minority white population would rule the country from 1948 until the early 1990s. The highly regarded theater performance Woza Albert, which debuted in 1981 and won over 20 important honors globally, was another piece of Ngema’s creative repertory.