‘Mbongeni Ngema took me from the dust of Umlazi as a young man’: Dumisani Dlamini

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Veteran actor Dumisani Dlamini said the late Mbongeni Ngema helped him raise funds to organise a traditional homecoming ceremony for his daughter, American-born rapper and singer Doja Cat.

“I’m today called Doja Cat’s father through Mbongeni. If it wasn’t for him that child would never have been born,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini spoke to TimesLIVE on the sidelines of Ngema’s funeral on Friday at the Durban International Convention Centre.

Ngema was killed in a head-on collision on the R61 in the Mbizana area in the Eastern Cape on December 27 while returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki in Bizana.

The veteran playwright was afforded a category two provincial funeral which was attended by some of the country’s biggest entertainment stars.

Throughout his illustrious career as a writer, actor and musician, Ngema discovered and trained numerous artists who have gone on to become household names in the country’, one of which whom was Dlamini.

“Mbongeni took me from the dust of Umlazi as a young man who’s very active in dancing. He showed me Johannesburg for the first time, New York, he showed me a lot of places. He taught me dancing, acting and singing. He even showed me life in art,” Dlamini said.

He said Ngema’s influence in his life extended beyond the professional space.

“I’m married today, I have a house and businesses because of bhuti Mbongeni. I’m saying that because when I was young I didn’t have any vision but he had one for me,” he said.

Dlamini played the role of Crocodile in one of Ngema’s standout plays Sarafina! which was adapted for film in 1992.

It was during a tour to the US as part of Ngema’s cast that he met Deborah Sawyer, the mother of his daughter Doja Cat.

Doja Cat, real name Amala Zandile Dlamini, has since become an internationally renowned artist whose crowning moment came in 2022 when she won a Grammy award for her song Kiss me more.

“My child is a bomb, she’s one of the biggest (artists in the world) and she’s a South African and we don’t have that child here. If it wasn’t for him (Ngema) that would never happen,” said Dlamini.

He said Ngema loved what was happening with Doja Cat and, as an artist himself, had been very appreciative of her career.

A man known for his strong traditional beliefs, Ngema had been very influential in Dlamini’s plan to bring the 28-year-old to the country to perform traditional rituals.

“This was going to happen this year because we’d found some certain kind of funding to be able to fetch her to visit home to do Umemulo, put on isiphandla (animal wristband) and all that,” said Dlamini.

Doja Cat has pointed out in various interviews over the years that she’d never met her father.

However, Dlamini said that has since been rectified and that his relationship with his daughter was “OK” , and that plans to bring her to South Africa were still on track.

“That didn’t vanish, everything is going to happen,” he said.

“I’ve been there (in her US home) and came back, everything is fine. It’s a matter of bringing her home to honour the soul. It’s still on, just a matter of time.”



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