Cont was a doyen of the arts

Standard Style
A playwright, actor, theatre director, and fine political orator, who stood tall, talked boldly, loud and very clear, to the learned and unlearned, reminding them about Gukurahundi, giving stubborn facts.

BY THOBEKILE NOSIMILO MHLANGA IN 1958, in Lupane’s Shabula, Matabeleland North, in Zimbabwe, a politically mature, confident critic orator, Cont Mdladla Mhlanga was born.

All talks in Zimbabwe, particularly Matabeleland, stretching to the entire global village, are about the heroic artist. We are mourning our highly gifted artist, Cont Mdladla Mhlanga.

A playwright, actor, theatre director, and fine political orator, who stood tall, talked boldly, loud and very clear, to the learned and unlearned, reminding them about Gukurahundi, giving stubborn facts.

Amakhosi theatre production (also known as Amakhosi Academy of Performing Arts) is a Zimbabwean theatre company based at the Makokoba Township, Square Cultural Centre in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province.

The company was established in its current name in 1981, by Cont Mdladla Mhlanga and has since become an influential cultural institution in Zimbabwe, playing a role not only in stimulating the performance arts scene, but also in examining critical issues in politics, health, and women’s rights as well as development involving urban and rural communities through methods of active audience engagement.

The group’s origin goes back to 1979 when Mhlanga and his Dragon Karate club colleagues turned up one day for their training sessions at Makokoba’s Stanley Hall and found the hall booked for a theatre workshop.

The Karate club members attended the workshop, out of curiosity and it was during this experience, that their enthusiasm for theatre was first ignited.

Mhlanga began to attend theatre workshops in Bulawayo and Harare in 1980 and 1981(in the newly independent Zimbabwe) from which he would return to share newly acquired skills with his Karate club.

ln 1981, the Dragons Karate Club official renamed itself,’ Amakhosi Productions.’

The performers became highly active in the township of Makokoba and beyond. By 1990 the group had performed 295 times on stage and grown to 110 active members. Initially Mhlanga was the sole writer, director and producer of all the plays.

However, other Amakhosi play wrights, such as Cont’s brother, Styx Mhlanga, were to make contributions to the company’s extensive repertoire, while the company expanded and diversified.

Mhlanga shared his talent to now successful people, who are our clearly marked signposts, pointing to the legend. These are Sandra Ndebele, Ba Shupi, Sarah Mpofu, Raisedon Baya and William Nyandoro.

He was a centre of employment.

An industrial site, a Metropolitan province, a cultural centre, a live broadcast ZBC wing and a stage filmed director on television. All done at Amakhosi theatre, Skyz Metro FM and Umkhulu Lomsebenzi productions on ZBC. He was against corruption and was often arrested for public expressions of his views

We all admit the authorship of the following, The Good President, The End, Sinjalo, Children on the fire, Vikela, Tomorrow’s People, Pregnant with emotions, Stitsha, Workshop Negative, Nansi lendoda, Dabulap( All by Cont Mdladla Mhlanga.)

Cont also directed ‘Bamgqibela ephila’ and ‘Bamngcwaba’.

Awards, Inyembe

Mhlanga scooped the Art Venture Freedom award, where 86 countries were represented with participants nearing close to 1000.We respect the judges who presented their results withoutfavouritism. This was our hero and artist, Mhlanga.

Mdladla and Amakhosi Cultural Centre were awarded the Prince Claus award in December 2015

May his dear soul rest in peace! He leaves behind a dear wife, Thembi Ngwabi, children and grandchildren. We keep our fingers crossed and hope his children, grandchildren and siblings take after their father and brother.

His immediate family, wife, children, grandchildren and siblings, people from Matabeleland, particularly Lupane, people from Bulawayo,Zimbabweans in particular and the world at large is at loss, silahlekelwe.

Kalale ngokuthula uCont Mdladla Mhlanga. Kalilale ngokuthula iqhawe lethu.

  • Thobekile Nosimilo Mhlanga is a writer based in Bulawayo

Related Topics

Edutainment mix: A man’s place can be the kitchen
By The Southern Eye Aug. 28, 2022
Zim moves to lessen burden of care work
By The Southern Eye Aug. 28, 2022
Festival amplifies new voices
By The Southern Eye Aug. 28, 2022
Key populations decry lack of SRH services
By The Southern Eye Aug. 28, 2022