The family of the late celebrated Zimbabwean playwright and arts administrator Cont Mhlanga, has announced they will set up a foundation in his honour.
Mhlanga, founder of Amakhosi Theatre Arts Productions, had a series of plays, films, books and training materials to his name which helped in shaping the careers of many artists who are locally, nationally and internationally recognised.
Speaking at the memorial service held at the Amphitheatre, Friday, his daughter, Gcina, said as his children, they never imagined the magnitude of the work their father did.
She said in order to preserve his legacy, they are going to set up the Cont Mhlanga Foundation which will administer and manage all his work for the benefit of those who wish to have access to it.
“Up until the time of his death we never truly understood the amount of influence our father had. We never understood the impact of his work.To us, he was just an ordinary man with the wildest dreams,” she said.
“We are slowly beginning to understand why he raised us the way that he did.It never occurred to us that we would one day have the mamoth task of standing on the shoulders of a giant.”
Gcina said the best they can do to preserve their father’s legacy is to create an atmosphere that will uphold the great work he did.
“I know we wont live up to his reputation and we don’t even intend to try. All that we can do is create an atmosphere that best preserves his legacy, not only for ourselves but for every person whose life was touched in a deep and meaningful way,” she said.
“That is why as his children we will launch the Cont Mhlanga Foundation which will be the custodian and have all the rights to the Cont Mhlanga works. It will manage and administer all the work he created.”
Bulawayo Mayor Solomon Mguni said the setting up of the foundation is a step in the right direction that will help to immortalise Cont Mhlanga’s legacy.
“Cont Mhlanga, was a go-getter who seized every opportunity with both hands. He had a purpose to be a voice for the voiceless and he excelled in doing that,” said mayor Mguni.
“As people of Bulawayo we need to ask ourselves what we are doing for the city, it is not the city that has to do something for us all the time.
“Amakhosi is there and it will live forever. We are glad that the family is going to start a foundation. We hope that it will immortalise Mhlanga’s legacy. We cannot tell them what to do with the Amakhosi theatre, but we hope that his name will be engraved in the structure forever.”
Mayor Mguni said giving Mhlanga a place to establish Amakhosi theater was the best decision that the city ever made.
“I’m happy that the efforts of the council in awarding land for Amakhosi Arts Theatre did not go to waste as the center has offered the highest quality of training and production of theatre in the country,” he said.
“As the city of Bulawayo, we gave him his flowers while he was still alive and we do not regret that decision. I encourage those in the art industry to take their lessons from Mhlanga and be go-getters.”
Speakers who paid tribute to the arts doyen described him as a fearless visionary who worked tirelessly to better the arts industry not only in the Matabeleland region but on both national and international platforms.
Daniel Maphosa noted that the reason why the industry is struggling in Zimbabwe is not because there are no actors or directors, but that there are no producers who are business minded as Mhlanga was.
Mhlanga who is survived by his wife and six children will be laid to rest at his rural home in Lupane on Saturday morning.