Veteran playwright Welcome Msomi, 76, dies

Playwright Welcome Msomi. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)
Playwright Welcome Msomi. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)
  • Veteran playwright Welcome Msomi has died after “a short illness”.
  • Msomi suffered a stroke in November 2019 whilst in the midst of a legal battle.
  • He was globally renowned for writing and directing the play uMabatha - an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in isiZulu.


UPDATE - 11:00

President Cyril Ramaphosa on death of Welcome Msomi: 'We have lost a cultural stalwart'

President Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement on Sunday morning said South Africa’s creative community has lost a significant treasure with the passing of Welcome Msomi.

The President expressed his condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Msomi.

President Ramaphosa said: "We have lost a cultural stalwart whose creativity gave depth, colour and lyricism to South Africa’s dramatic and complex history.

"While Welcome Msomi was exceptionally talented as an individual, he dedicated his energy, time and resources to the development of new generations of performers who would celebrate and showcase our nation’s cultural diversity.

"This investment in the future of our cultural communities is Welcome Msomi’s true legacy, one that will ensure that his inspiration lives on in his physical absence."


ORIGINAL - 09:20

Veteran playwright Welcome Msomi, 76, dies

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture confirmed in a statement to the media on Saturday night that veteran playwright Welcome Msomi has died.

He was 76 years old. 

According to the statement Msomi "passed away after a short illness". Dispatch reported in 2019 that Msomi suffered a stroke.

The theatre icon was due to be sentenced in November last after year after being found guilty of theft and fraud for stealing R8m from the Living Legends Legacy Programme trust account (LLLP) but the case was postponed until February 2020 due to his ailing health. 

The SABC reports that the case was postponed again in February due to Msomi’s health.

"Despite the unfortunate events that led to his conviction in 2019, Welcome Msomi leaves a formiddable legacy," the department said in its statement.

"Bab’Msomi wrote his first book at the age of 15 and went on to make his name in Zulu literature as well as South African Theatre. He is globally renowned for writing and directing theatre play uMabatha

"The play is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and was performed all over the world in isiZulu. He also worked at the then Radio Bantu, today known as Ukhozi FM, where he wrote and performed in plays that were broadcast on the national radio station."

The department added: "uBab’Msomi was behind the progression of the Zulu dance choreography and over time, developed a cult-like following. Something he will forever be remembered for."

TV producer Duma Ndlovu paid tribute to Msomi saying: "Welcome was a giant tree full of ideas who always wanted to take arts and culture to another level. Always searching for ways to do better for South African arts and culture. He was a show runner, a dreamer and a visionary." 

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