Tributes pour in for acting legend Mafela

Pretoria - The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) have joined South Africans in mourning the passing of legendary actor and film maker, Joe Mafela, who passed away in a car accident at the weekend.

“We are shocked and saddened by the news of the death of this great South African, a wonderful human being and a committed voice of the arts,” Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, said on Sunday.

Hatang described Mafela as an incredible actor in both film and television, a writer, producer and potent singer who occupied a special place in the hearts of African audiences. 

He said Mafela was not one to keep silent while artists were not treated with dignity.

“He spoke for the rights of many artists, including those who did not get the respect that he was afforded. As we deal with this loss, we should also remember the happy person Mafela was and the joy he brought into our homes, thus we should celebrate the impact he made in our lives during the toughest of times.”

As the arts industry celebrates its achievements this week through the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs), Hatang called on the industry to reflect on itself, engage on the plight of many of its own and take forward the cause Mafela so personally championed -- that of seeing a totally transformed industry, which does not only celebrate its artists, but rewards them fairly.

Meanwhile, the SABC expressed sadness at Mafela’s passing, saying he was a giant in his field and had become a voice and face of the industry.

“The multi-talented Mr Mafela, who was also known as a singer/songwriter and producer and who recently appeared on SABC 1 soapie Generations: The Legacy, will be remembered for his memorable acting roles in TV shows such as the hugely popular Sgudi ‘Snaysi, where he portrayed the character Sdumo, a nickname which stuck with him through the years,” said the SABC in a statement.

Other notable SABC TV programmes where he starred in throughout the years are Udeliwe, Going Up, Kululeka, Madam and Eve and the drama series Stokvel, which he conceptualised.

“The SABC sends its heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, viewers and fans, who have followed his esteemed career in TV, stage and film over the past 40 years.”

President Zuma also sent his condolences on the passing of Mafela, describing him as one of the pioneers of television comedy that was loved by all South Africans, young and old.

“The arts and culture industry has been robbed of a bigger than life figure. We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Mafela family. May his soul rest in peace,” said President Zuma on Sunday.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa also paid tribute to Mafela.

“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,” said Minister Mthethwa. – SAnews.gov.za