Legendary film creator, Continue-loving “Cont” Mdlala Mhlanga who passed on yesterday at the United Bulawayo Hospitals after a short illness has been granted a State-assisted funeral for his illustrious works in the creative and cultural industry.
This was confirmed by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda in a statement this afternoon.
“His Excellency the President Dr E.D Mnangagwa has granted State-assisted Funeral to the National Arts Merit Awards legend, Continue-loving “Cont” Mdlala Mhlanga who passed on yesterday at the United Bulawayo Hospitals after a short illness.
“On behalf of the Office of the President and Cabinet and indeed on my behalf, I wish foremost to express my deepest condolences to the Mhlanga family who have lost a beloved father and breadwinner and to the cultural and creative arts community in general, who are poorer with the demise of one of Zimbabwe’s most respected icons the arts sector has ever produced.”
Sibanda said this was in recognition Cont Mhlanga’s great achievements as an internationally acclaimed playwright, filmmaker and creative director who came as a trail blazer in the country’s creative and cultural industries.
Cont had recently been appointed as a member of the National Team for the Creation of a Strategy for the Zimbabwe Film Sector.
In the last 24 hours, there have been loud calls for government to consider according the iconic Mhlanga National hero status for his works in the arts sector following similar recognition to artistes like musicians Oliver Mtukudzi who was declared national hero, Chinx Chingaira and Soul Jah Love who were declared provincial heroes.
However, Cont was also known to be a critic of Zanu PF government over the years having had his play members temporarily banned from theatre stages in the country in 1985.
He was famously quoted saying, “Once you have a government that bans you as an individual and people do not see your work, but see you as a controversial and problematic figure, you do not get far.”
He established Amakhosi Theatre in 1981 where a lot of artists passed through his hands to become household names in Zimbabwe.
Among some of his best works on ZBC were ‘Sinjalo” which attempted to break the tribal divide in a comical way.
He was also behind popular TV productions like Stitsha, Amakorokoza, Bamqgibela Ephila and Omunye Umngcwabo.