OBITUARY: Siphelo’ Nqontsonqa’ Dyongman
By PHUMELELE LAVISA, curator at the Amazwi SA Museum of Literature
The Amazwi South African Museum of Literature is saddened by the news of the untimely passing of one of Makhanda’s most revered wordsmiths, Siphelo Dyongman, fondly known as ‘Nqontsonqa’.
Dyongman was a praise poet born and bred in Makhanda on 29 August 1990. His love for isiXhosa was nurtured at Fikizolo Primary school, where he attended events and exhibitions of traditional music and dance.
His father, Thembile Dyongman, recalls that Siphelo started his praise singing during his grandmother’s funeral when he was still a child. As a poet, he first got on stage in Grade 5 at Andrew Moyake Primary, and his praise singing has captivated many more hearts since then, from open mic sessions to national festivals countrywide.
After completing his matric at Nyaluza Senior Secondary School, Siphelo was awarded a Science Expo sponsorship for enrolling at Rhodes University for studies in Science. However, his passion for media pulled him towards Walter Sisulu University, where he pursued and completed a BTech degree.
His academic path brought him back to Rhodes University in Makhanda afterwards, where he obtained an Honours degree in African Languages. During his studies, he also worked as an assistant at the International Library of African Music at Rhodes University. At the moment of his passing, he was pursuing a Rhodes Master’s degree in African Languages, specializing in isiXhosa.
Some of the most significant achievements in his career as an artist include; being a pioneer of various artist movements around Makhanda and the Eastern Cape. His major projects include two full poetry albums, his debut CD titled Nantso Ke Into Yakho, his second release titled Ukuhamba Lichiza, and a collaboration mixtape titled Ndifun’ezi – an outstanding project which dealt with issues around gender-based violence.
Moreover, he also featured in a song called Umenziwa with Berita, a SAMA Award-winning songstress from East London, on her debut album Conquering Spirit.
A true media head par excellence, Dyongman worked as a reporter for Grocott’s Mail and was never shy to grow into the broader commercial media industry. This sensational performer’s face was no stranger to television screens as he appeared on various programs such as Skyroom Live and Culture Quest on SABC TV prime time. In addition, Nqontsonqa’s music has been receiving airplay on radio stations such as Umhlobo Wenene FM, Tru FM, Mdantsane FM and Kumkani FM, amongst others.
Having collaborated with many artists nationwide, his close circles included other seasoned poets, namely Nonzame Khatsha, Bongwez Ndokose, Siyabonga’ Gqobhoz’imbawula’ Ngcayi, Phumza’ Madiya’, Akhona ‘Bhodlingqaka’ Mafani, Thandeka’ Nkqo’ Vabaza and Simbone’ Inyange’ Qabo to mention just a few.
Amazwi had the privilege of knowing and working closely with this brilliant mind during the annual Amazwi–Puku Children’s Storytelling Festival held at the Monument, Amazwi Museum and Fingo Library since its inception, where his contributions were always highly appreciated. Amazwi would like to extend condolences to his family and the arts fraternity. It is a great loss, but his work remains a legacy that will continue to inspire others.