Henry “Black Cat” Cele

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Henry "Black Cat" Cele

Biographical information


Footballer and actor

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
30 January 1949
Date of death: 
2 November 2007

Henry “Black Cat” Cele was born on 30 January 1949 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.

Cele, nicknamed "Black Cat” for his prowess as a goalkeeper, played for Zulu Royals (AmaZulu) in Lamontville Township and coached a professional soccer club in South Africa until his death.  In the 1960s he worked at the Durban City Corporation. He played for Aces United in the old South African Soccer League (SASL) in the 1960s. On Saturdays, he played for Durity Football Club in the Commercial Football League in Durban.

In 1986, Cele played the role of Shaka Zulu in a miniseries of the same name.  Later he too the lead in a film, directed by William Faure, about the Zulu people during the reign of Zulu king Shaka kaSenzangakhona. From then Cele was known as "Shaka".  Cele also had a minor role in the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness, which starred Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer. He also played various minor roles in action films such as Point of Impact and The Last Samurai.

He was married to Jennifer Hollander. His son Khumbulani Cele, from a previous marriage, is also musician. After his acting career took a nosedive, Cele moved from his suburban home in Glenmore, south of Durban, and went back to Kwamashu Township.

Henry Cele passed away on 2 November 2007 at St Augustine’s Hospital, Durban, where he was admitted with a chest infection.

• Henry “Black Cat” Cele Biography, Public Contribution from JT Communications,  Biographies from the Siyabakhumbula Awards, 2011.
•  Anon, The Role of Shaka Zulu was Played by Henry Cele in 1983, Depicting The True Life of the Zulu People [online] Available at www.zulu-culture-history.com [Accessed 7 June 2011]
•  Anon, Henry Cele, from Whos Who Southern Africa, [online] Available at www.whoswhosa.co.za  [Accessed 7 June 2007]
•  Anon, Henry Cele profile [online] Available at www.loudletters.com  [Accessed 7 June 2011]
•  Shakur, A (2007), Henry Cele-Shaka Zulu from Assata Shakur, [online] Available at www.assatashakur.org Accessed 7 June 2007
•  Zulu, M & Motsepe, C, (2007), Henry Cele died 'an angry man' from News24, 5 November,  [online] Available at www.news24.com  [Accessed 7 June 2011]
•  Woolaganathan ‘Jackson’ Perumal, Durban, SAHO Telephonic interview ”“ 7 June 2011

Last updated : 24-Oct-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 22-Jun-2011