March 24 2017 – EVERYONE who is anybody in the acting industry attended the memorial of the legendary actor Joe Mafela held on Thursday (today) at the Johannesburg Theatre.
Abigail Kubheka, Patrick Shai, Mfundi Vundla, all of television soap opera Generations fame were among the whose who attended. Cynthia Shange, who plays Deliwe in South Africa’s first all-black film “Deliwe”, was also in attendance.
She made a speech in which she revealed that Mafela, who died on Saturday aged 75, was like family to her.
“When I met Joe I discovered that I have met someone special … he became a brother. He was everything to me. I am very grateful to have known him … he taught me how to be humble, he loved everyone, especially his family,” Shange said.
Shange added that Mafela was a good teacher. “I am the actor I am today because of what Bra Joe taught me.”
Generations senior cast member and veteran actor Shai agreed with Shange that the legendary actor, songwriter and film producer was indeed a good teacher.
Hundreds of fans, friends and family were entertained by various choirs. Speaker after speaker lauded Mafela as a consummate professional and perfect gentleman.
Although Mafela, best known for his lead role as “Sdumo” in the sitcom “Sgudi’Snaysi”, was brought up in Kliptown, west of Johannesburg, he was born in Sibasa, Limpopo in 1942.
He co-starred in the first all-black movie made in South Africa, as Peter Pleasure in Udeliwe in 1974, and went on to work with director Peter R. Hunt in the 1976 film, Shout at the Devil.
It emerged on Thursday that the reason Johannesburg Theatre was the venue for the funeral was because Grace Bible Church in Soweto had requested R89,000 to host the event.
Apparently actor Mangaliso Ngema had on Wednesday posted on Facebook: “We visited the Joe Mafela home last night to pay our respects. I was shocked to learn that Grace Bible Church, in Soweto, wanted a fee of R89 000 for the memorial. When the head Pastor Musa Sono was consulted, he offered a R10k discount. Needless to say, there was no deal as this is totally ridiculous. This is supposed to be ‘a house of God’ serving the community.”
Although the post was later removed and Ngema apologised, it solicited a backlash against the church on social media, with some condemning it as “greedy”.
The church later responded, saying: “Grace Bible Church reserves the right to discuss the terms with families and organisers as it standard with other facilities and does not comment publicly on such issues which can only be disclosed by organisers or families. – ANA