The nation has lost an “extraordinary son of the soil” with the death of Joe Mafela‚ Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Sunday in a tribute to the legendary actor.
Police confirmed that Mafela was killed in a car accident at around 10pm on Saturday night on the M1 North between the Oxford and Houghton Road off-ramps in Johannesburg.
“We are shocked and saddened by the passing of a great artist and a truly generous man‚ Baba Joe Mafela. The nation has lost an extraordinary son of the soil. He was multi-talented and multi-skilled‚ much loved and much revered. We salute his lifelong contribution to South African arts and culture. We convey our strength and heartfelt condolences to the Mafela family‚ to his friends and numerous fans‚” Mthethwa said.
Joe Mafela is a household name to all of us as he spent decades on the big and small screens acting out a countless number of roles which showed his versatility as an actor. His role as the character‚ S’dumo‚ in Sgudi Snaysi remains in the consciousness and cultural imagination of the nation as a whole. But he was also a producer‚ a director‚ an advertising director and a musician whose hit songs including ‘Shebeleza’ came to dominate the air waves‚” the minister added
Born in Sibasa‚ Limpopo‚ and raised in Kliptown and Tshiawelo‚ Soweto‚ Mofela began his career in 1965 when he had his acting debut in the film “Real News” in which he played an editor. In 1974 he starred in South Africa’s first black feature film‚ “Udeliwe” which gained him a new following among movie-goers‚ Mthethwa noted.
During the 1980s his television career blossomed with “Sgudi ‘Snaysi”. He also became a creative director in the advertising industry and also focused on producing. He became a co-owner of Penguin Films. He began releasing highly successful musical albums. He won numerous awards including a Loerie award for his advertising work and best actor in comedy at the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA). He also received an Emmy nomination. In recent times‚ he acted in “Generations: the Legacy”.
About his sustained success‚ in an interview he said that: “Acting was never about fame and money. It has been about passion. That is why some of us are still here 50 years on.”
“It is saddening to hear about the passing of a great friend and colleague. We have been working with Joe Mafela since the Living Legends Legacy Programme (LLLP) started. Through the programme he has been instrumental in the shaping of young actors and actresses in the Kwa-Mashu community art centre and at the Market Theatre incubator. He was also a great contributor in the establishment of the LLLP committee
“He was full of life and loving compassion for the development of the sector. We have lost a treasure‚” said Welcome Msomi‚ Chairperson of the Living Legends Legacy Programme‚ an initiative of the Department of Arts and Culture.