Who was Mbongeni Ngema Married To? Know Who is Mbongeni Ngema Wife?

Who was Mbongeni Ngema Married To

In the vibrant tapestry of South Africa’s arts and culture, one name shines brightly – Mbongeni Ngema. A versatile artist renowned for his contributions to theater, music, and film, Ngema’s life was marked by not only his artistic brilliance but also his intriguing marital journey. Join us as we delve into the depths of Mbongeni Ngema’s marriages, his legacy, and the remarkable story of his life.

Name Mbongeni Ngema
Born 10 May 1955
Place of Birth Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Died 27 December 2023 (aged 68)
Occupation Playwright, writer, composer, director, producer, actor
Language English
Notable Works Sarafina!, Woza Albert!
Spouses Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema (m. 1983; div. 1992)

Leleti Khumalo (m. 1992; div. 2005)

The First Act: Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema (1983-1992)

Our narrative begins in 1983 when Mbongeni Ngema tied the knot with Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema. This union was not just a marriage but a creative collaboration that would leave an indelible mark on South Africa’s cultural landscape. Together, they birthed the acclaimed musical “Sarafina!” – a powerful depiction of the struggles of black South Africans during the apartheid era.

The Artistic Bond

The artistic synergy between Ngema and Xoliswa was palpable. Their work on “Sarafina!” resonated with audiences around the world, earning critical acclaim. However, behind the scenes, their relationship faced challenges. Xoliswa’s memoir sheds light on alleged violent behavior by Ngema during their marriage, adding complexity to their partnership.

A New Act: Leleti Khumalo (1992-2005)

As one chapter closed, another opened in Ngema’s personal life. In 1992, he married actress Leleti Khumalo, whom he had met while working on “Sarafina!” This union was characterized by a significant age difference, yet it marked another significant chapter in Ngema’s life.

The Creative Evolution

While his first marriage was intertwined with artistic collaboration, Ngema’s relationship with Leleti witnessed the evolution of his career. Although the couple eventually divorced in 2005, their time together added yet another layer to the multifaceted narrative of Ngema’s life.

The Essence of Mbongeni Ngema

To truly understand the significance of Mbongeni Ngema’s marriages, one must grasp the essence of the man himself. Ngema was not merely a husband but a prolific playwright, lyricist, composer, director, choreographer, and theater producer.

Artistic Brilliance

His journey in the arts began with the influential play “Woza Albert!” co-authored in 1981 and reached its zenith with the collaborative creation of “Sarafina!” in 1988 alongside Hugh Masakela. These works vividly portrayed the resilience and spirit of black South Africans during apartheid.

A Legacy in Theater

“Sarafina!” garnered international acclaim, including Tony nominations and NAACP Image Awards, ultimately becoming a successful film. Ngema’s contributions extended beyond this iconic work to include productions addressing pressing issues, such as the prison musical “Asinamali” (1983) and “Sarafina II” (1995), which addressed the AIDS epidemic.

International Recognition

Ngema’s impact transcended South Africa’s borders. He earned a place on the New York “Walk of Fame” and contributed to the soundtracks of “Sarafina – the movie” (1992) and “The Lion King,” receiving a multi-platinum award. His enduring influence continued with plays like “The Zulu” (2013) and “Freedom Fighter.”

The Final Act: Mbongeni Ngema’s Legacy Lives On

Tragically, on December 27, 2023, Mbongeni Ngema’s life was cut short in a car accident. Yet, his legacy endures as a testament to his impactful contributions to the arts, particularly in portraying the resilience and spirit of his compatriots under the challenging circumstances of apartheid.


In the grand narrative of Mbongeni Ngema’s life, his marriages were but one facet of a multifaceted journey. His artistic brilliance, social impact, and enduring legacy make him an indomitable figure in the annals of South African history.


1. Who was Mbongeni Ngema Married To? Mbongeni Ngema was married twice. His first wife was Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema (1983-1992), and later, he married actress Leleti Khumalo (1992-2005).

2. What is Mbongeni Ngema’s Legacy? Mbongeni Ngema was a versatile South African artist known for his impactful contributions to theatre, film, and music, notably for co-writing “Sarafina!” and “Woza Albert!”

3. When did Mbongeni Ngema pass away? Mbongeni Ngema passed away on December 27, 2023, at the age of 68, in a car accident.

4. What were Mbongeni Ngema’s notable works? Mbongeni Ngema’s notable works include the acclaimed musicals “Sarafina!” and “Woza Albert!”

5. Where did Mbongeni Ngema’s artistic journey begin? Ngema’s artistic journey began in Johannesburg, collaborating with Gibson Kente as a singer and trainee actor.

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