Welcome Msomi (1941-2020). Actor, writer, theatrical producer and world acclaimed director and choreographer.
By the end of his school days at St Christopher's High School in Swaziland, Msomi had written and performed many plays including Zulu stories for SABC radio.
In 1979 Msomi settled in New York, to found the Zulu Dance Theatre in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area.
Returning to South Africa in 1992, he choreographed the presidential inauguration for Nelson Mandela in 1994.
On returning from the United States in 1994 he set up Msomi Hunt Lascaris in a joint venture with Hunt Lascaris. The company, now called Sasani Communications, was originally an events management company. He became chairman of Sasani Communications, married to Thuli Dumakude and father of four children.
He was appointed chairman of the new State Theatre advisory board in July 2000.
Sadly Msomi's fame became tarnished by corruption charges after he was convicted for the theft of R8 million from the Living Legends Legacy Programme trust fund in September 2018. He was to have been sentenced in 2020.
Msomi died on 4 July 2020 Friday at a hospital in KwaZulu-Natal after a short illness.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
Best known in South Africa as the author of the innovative and internationally successful Zulu version of Macbeth (uMabatha). Originally created for the Natal Workshop Theatre, and directed by Pieter Scholtz in 1970. In 1972 it opened the World Theatre Season in London, and then travelled on to New York. Together with Thuli Dumakude, his future wife, he starred in this play in January 1974 at the Colosseum Theatre. He directed his new version of it at the Civic Theatre in 1995 and the Playhouse in Durban in 1996.
In 1994 he directed the musical Buya Africa. He also helped set up a black marketing company and became the CEO of Sasani, the first black controlled entertainment group listed on the JSE.
He won the Arts category in the Johnnie Walker Celebrating Strides Awards, 2010.
Tucker, 1997. Pp 295-296, 533.
City Press, 22 April 2001.
Sunday Independent, 16 May 2010.
Business Day, 30 August 2011.
Theatre Lives .
Patience Bambalele. "Playwright Welcome Msomi has died", Sowetan Live: 4 July, 2020.
Various entries in the NELM catalogue.
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