Mbongeni Ngema (born 1 June 1956) is a South African writer, lyricist, composer, director and theatre producer, born in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal (near Durban). He started his career as a theatre backing guitarist.
He was previously married to actress Leleti Khumalo, who received a 1988 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Sarafina!, as well as starring in the leading role in South Africa's first Oscar-nominated film Yesterday.
He co-wrote the multi-award winning Woza Albert!
Born in Verulem 1956 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 five 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 Miriam Makeba.
Ngema has had a string of blockbusters that 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, 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 Tambo, Miriam Makeba and other heroes of the liberation struggle...