July 15, 2024

Legendary playwright Cont Mhlanga dies!

Legendary playwright and Amakhosi Theatre founder Cont Mhlanga has died.

Mhlanga who was hospitalized 10 days ago died in Bulawayo this morning.

In a statement, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Nicholas Moyo said they were saddened by the death of Mhlanga.

“It is with a heavy heart and intense sadness that the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Board and Management announces to the nation and the Cultural and Creative Sectors in Zimbabwe and internationally the sad passing on of the legendary Cont Mdladla Mhlanga. 

“Cont Mhlanga was admitted in hospital 10 days ago, whilst his situation seemed to stabilize, it took a different turn in the last three(3) days. Cont passed on this morning,” Moyo said.

“The Nation will be informed of further details of the unfolding situation in due course.”

Mhlanga is a playwright, filmmaker and creative director. His career in the cultural and creative industries began in 1982 when he formed Amakhosi which started as a youth karate club but switched to professional theatre in 1988.

Mhlanga wrote more than 20 plays among them The Good President, The End,
Sinjalo, Children on Fire, and Vikela. He has three books to his name. He also adapted the popular play Stitsha to a TV series. It featured the late Beater Mangethe. 

The Amakhosi Performing Arts Workshop (APAW) produced and toured with theatre plays written and directed by Mhlanga. In 1995 Amakhosi established the country’s first privately-owned cultural centre located within the boundaries of the townships in Bulawayo. 

Mhlanga has written more than 20 plays which include The Good PresidentThe End, Sinjalo, Children on Fire, Games and Bombs, Members only, Workshop Negative and Vikela. Cont has three books to his name including the play “Nansi leNdoda” a former A level set book and “Ngakade Ngisazi” a collection of short stories.

He adapted his theatre play Stitsha for television and it became a series featuring the late Beater Mangethe on ZBC TV. The TV drama was based on the tension and struggle between Thuli played by Beater and her tough on-screen brother, Mopho. The narrative was hugely Zimbabwean showcasing compelling Zimbabwean stories by Zimbabweans. 

Another of his plays Sinjalo explored everyday challenges in the life of two friends, Sakhamuzi (Ndebele) and Foromani. (Shona) a narrative that sought to teach the world that both Ndebele and Shona people of Zimbabwe could live together as friends with no enmity and prejudice. 

Cont has contributed tremendously to the arts industry. He has used his literary and creative prowess to champion the human rights cause as well as articulating the socio-economic and political situation in Zimbabwe.

Through Amakhosi he has helped to discover and mentor some of the country’s talented artists including Ba Shupi, Sandra Ndebele, Sarah Mpofu, Raisedon Baya and William Nyandoro. 

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