South Africa lost an acting and music superstar, Joe Mafela, whose ineffable talent made him the darling of the country. Mafela, one of South Africa’s preeminent entertainment legends died in a road accident on the 18th of March.

Mafela who was often regarded as ‘the face of South African entertainment,’ became a household name after some of his songs took over the airwaves. His song, Shebelesa (Okongo Mame)  became a theme song for the African Cup of Nations in 1996.

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The legendary Mafela was described as multi-talented, and he could speak 11 South African languages. The veteran actor, who died at age 75, began acting at 22. In 1986, he was cast as S’dumo in the Zulu language comedy series ‘Sgudi ‘Snyasi that ran for 78 episodes on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). His role in the popular show led to other roles in numerous series, and also encouraged Mafela to go into the advertising industry. Mafela’s career spun over 50 years.

Mafela whose Chicken Licken television commercials were popular in the 80s and 90s in South Africa was credited for writing the jingle “It’s good, good, good, it’s good, it’s nice.”

The commercial is said to have made South Africans fall in love with Chicken Licken.

Despite being a pioneer in the entertainment industry, Mafela, according to veteran actress Lillian Dube, were never invited for the South African Film & Television Awards (SAFTAS). Lillian Dube told Times Live that she and Mafela had discussed about the industry and how they were marginalised and not being given enough respect for what they had achieved. She said, “we need to be honoured while we are alive.” Mafela had just come back from a cruise with his wife and wasn’t present for the SAFTAS because he wasn’t invited.

There is an on-going homicide investigation in relation to the accident after Mafela’s car, a Ford Figo collided with an Izuzu van on M1 North in Johannesburg.

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The whole of South Africa is in mourning, and messages of condolences from political parties to fellow actors are being shared. His death has come as a shock to his family, and the industry. Condolences messages continue to be posted on social media.