Ipi Ntombi composer dies

2003-07-03 13:13

Johannesburg - The composer of South Africa's hit musical Ipi Ntombi, Bertha Egnos, died in Johannesburg on Wednesday at the age of 90.

Best known for the songs Mama Thembu's Wedding and The Warrior, Egnos wrote these numbers in the early seventies, intending them to be sung by Eartha Kitt on her tour to South Africa.

Kitt never performed the numbers and Egnos then wrote the hit musical Ipi Ntombi (Where are the girls?) together with her daughter Gail Lakier.

The show opened in March 1974 and ran for six consecutive years. It has toured England, France, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand and has become a South African icon on the international musical scene.

In 1980 it was awarded the Jimmy Durante "Best Revue" accolade in Las Vegas, Nevada where it ran for two years.

A talented musician in her own right, Bertha Egnos was an accomplished jazz pianist performing in London in the 1930s. During the Second World War, she returned to South Africa where she led the armed forces' Drum Majorettes.

In the apartheid years, Egnos performed at the legendary Dorkay House in downtown Johannesburg, where black and white artists defied the country's race laws by performing together under one roof.

A memorial service for Egnos will be held at Temple Emanuel, Oxford Road, Parktown, Johannesburg at noon on Friday.