HENRY CELE Remembered for his portrayal of Zulu Warrior

Henry Cele

Henry Cele (20 June 1941 – 2 December 2007) was a South African actor noted for his portrayal of the great Zulu Warrior King Shaka kaSenzangakhona in the South African television miniseries Shaka Zulu (1986) as well as in the television movie Shaka Zulu: The Last Great Warrior 15 years later. Henry Cele was born in KwaMashu, Durban, South Africa. As a member of the Cele family he was referred to by his clan name Ndosi (Bavela KwaMthetwa), or Magaye.

As an athlete, Cele, nicknamed “Black Cat” for his prowess as a goalkeeper, played for Aces United in the old South African Soccer League (SASL) in the 1960s. He also played for Lamontville Golden Arrows soccer team in Lamontville Township and coached a professional soccer club in South Africa until his death. On Saturdays, he played for Durity Football Club in the Commercial Football League in Durban.

As an actor, Cele was an international star, performing in his native South Africa and in the United States as well. He was selected for the role of Shaka in the miniseries after performing the same role in a South African stage production of Shaka Zulu. Cele was highlighted in the African American Jet Magazine (3 November 1986 issue, page 57) regarding his role in Shaka Zulu–The Mini Series. He appeared in major roles in South African movies and television series programs as well as international films.

In later years, Cele moved from his suburban home in Glenmore, south of Durban, and returned to his hometown in KwaMashu township.

Cele died on 2 December 2007 at St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban. He is buried at the Stellawood Cemetery in Durban eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.