State-assisted funeral for Cont Mhlanga The late Cont Mhlanga

Bongani Ndlovu Bulawayo Bureau

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has accorded late playwright Cont Mhlanga a State-assisted funeral and has given the family $2,5 million for funeral expenses.

This was revealed by Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Judith Ncube at the family home in Nguboyenja when she was paying her respects yesterday.

Mhlanga (64) died Monday morning at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) after being admitted for 10 days. His family has said he succumbed to pneumonia.

On Friday there will be a memorial service at Amakhosi Cultural Centre from 8AM and then Mhlanga’s body will travel to Lupane, lie in state and be buried on Saturday.

After introductions by NACZ executive director Mr Moyo, Minister Ncube, addressing mourners, said she was shocked to hear that Mhlanga had fallen ill.

“We are all going to die, but a sudden death like Mhlanga’s is shocking. I hadn’t heard that he was ill and it came to me as a shock that he has died. I’m hurt and sad that Mhlanga has died,” said Minister Ncube.

She said President Mnangagwa admired Mhlanga and his contribution to the arts in Zimbabwe.

“I’m here with our deepest respects as the nation of Zimbabwe. Mhlanga has been accorded a State-assisted funeral by the President. Also, as part of the State-assisted funeral, the family will be given $2.5 million to help the funeral to run smoothly,” said Minister Ncube.

She said Mhlanga was integral in the arts sector of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe.

Family representative, Mr Styx Mhlanga thanked Government for the assistance.

“We thank the Government for supporting us during this time of distress for the family. Also with the honour that was given to my brother. This shows the many things that my brother did for the community, that are his legacy. He has left a legacy,” said Mr Mhlanga.

President Mnangagwa mourned Mhlanga saying the country has lost an internationally acclaimed playwright, filmmaker and creative director who came as a trailblazer in our country’s creative and cultural industries.

This was said by Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda in a statement

“Only recently the late departed had been appointed as a member of the national team for the creation of a strategy for the Zimbabwe Film Sector,” read the statement.

“On behalf of the office of the President and Cabinet and indeed on my behalf, I wish foremost, to express my deepest condolences to the Mhlanga family who have lost a beloved father and breadwinner and to the cultural and creative arts community in general, who are the poorer with the demise of one of Zimbabwe’s most respected icons the arts sector has ever produced. May his departed soul rest in eternal peace.”

The playwright established Amakhosi Theatre in 1981 where several artistes who passed through his hands became household names in Zimbabwe.

It started as a youth karate club called Dragons in 1979 and turned into Amakhosi Theatre two years later. Mhlanga starred as Mtutureli Niekwu in an anti-apartheid movie A World Apart which was released in 1988.

In 1995 Amakhosi established the country’s first privately-owned cultural centre located within the boundaries of the townships, now popularly known as the Township Square Cultural Centre.

The legend wrote more than 20 plays among them The Good President, The End, Sinjalo, Children on Fire, Games and Bombs,

He also adapted the popular play Stitsha into a TV series and it featured the late Beatar Mangethe. He directed Bamqgibela Ephila and Omunye Umngcwabo.

Mhlanga also produced Amakorokoza and Sinjalo for ZBC.

He was the founding vice-chairperson of Fairtalk Communications, the parent company of Skyz Metro, Breeze FM and KeYona TV.

Upon retiring from the arts in 2016, he relocated from Bulawayo to his rural home in Lupane, where he was rearing livestock such as goats.

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