Leleti Khumalo’s Tribute Dance to Mbongeni Ngema: A Sarafina! Icon Remembered

In a poignant moment at the Special Provincial Funeral Category Two for Mbongeni Ngema, held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on January 5, iconic actress Leleti Khumalo paid a heartfelt tribute. President Cyril Ramaphosa, along with dignitaries like Police Minister Bheki Cele, poet Mzwakhe Mbuli, and singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, gathered to bid farewell to the legendary figure. Leleti Khumalo, the lead actress in the award-winning film Sarafina!, shared her memories and expressed gratitude during an emotional interview.

A Nostalgic Dance Down Memory Lane

Khumalo reminisced, saying, “These are very, very sad times. It’s sad for everyone, especially for the family. He basically introduced me to this industry. I was very young. I owe a lot to him. Unfortunately, he has passed. There’s nothing we can do about that. My whole career in this industry, I owe it to him. He put me on the global map. I am known throughout the world because he took me out of KwaMashu and introduced me to this industry.”


Mid-ceremony, Leleti Khumalo surprised attendees by joining the dancers on stage, reenacting an iconic dance scene from the Sarafina! movie. The performance evoked strong emotions, both among the guests and on social media.

Reliving History Through Social Media

The dance video, shared on social media platforms, prompted a wave of reactions, showcasing the profound impact of Ngema’s work and Khumalo’s tribute. Users expressed a mix of nostalgia, pride, and sorrow as they engaged with the content.

Social Media Reactions:

  1. @ArchibaldRambau: “This is our history, and we fought so hard for this freedom that we are being labeled rights spoiled citizens by those who fail to hold their governments responsible. I’m not fighting, but this brings a lot of traumatizing memories.”
  2. @Mam_iyah: “Felt Leleti Khumalo.”
  3. @eaglelion209: “Goodbye, constable Sabela. Stimela sami sasezola, stove sami samalahle, stututu sami. You will always live in our hearts. Bye-bye Mbongeni Ngema.”


Leleti Khumalo’s tribute dance not only honored Mbongeni Ngema’s legacy but also reignited the significance of Sarafina! in the hearts of many. The emotional connection shared by Khumalo and Ngema, portrayed through the iconic dance, solidifies their impact on South African cinema and cultural history. As social media continues to echo with the reverberations of this heartfelt moment, it is evident that their contributions will endure in the collective memory of a grateful nation.

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