Joe Mafela - A legend gone too soon

Joe Mafela (Photo: Gallo)
Joe Mafela (Photo: Gallo)

Cape Town - Actor, writer, producer, director, singer and businessman Joe Mafela died at the age of 75 on Saturday.  

According to Metro police spokesperson Edna Mamonyane, Mafela died following a car accident. His nephew Anthony Mafela broke the news of his uncle's tragic passing on Twitter on Sunday. 

Joe "Sdumo" Mafela was born 1942 in Sibasa, Transvaal, and was brought up in Kliptown and White City Jabavu, in Soweto, near Johannesburg. 

He started acting in movies at the age of 22, playing the role of an editor in the movie, Real News

Mafela went on to join the South African film company SA Films and worked as producer, director and film actor for 20 years.

He also managed the multi-ethnic dance troupes Mzumba, Sangoma, and the Gold Reef Dancers, which performed in feature films, theaters and hotels.

The actor 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

In 1986 he was cast as the unemployed lodger S'dumo in the Zulu language comedy series Sgudi 'Snaysi, which ran for 78 episode on SABC. 

Mafela co-owned the production company, Penguin Films where he worked as Creative Producer

Mafela conceptualised and starred in early Chicken Licken TV ads, and authored the company's "It's good, good, good, it's good its nice" jingle during the making the commercial in 1986.

In 1996, Gallo Records released the album Shebeleza Felas, with the popular hit Shebeleza (Okongo Mame). It was a huge success, and Shebeleza was a theme song during the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996.

He went on to record and released several other Zulu language albums. 

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