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Friday, January 27, 2012


(Pic by Val Adamson. Thami Cele)

Internationally renowned playwright and director/producer, Mbongeni Ngema, pays tribute to one of his most talented actors, Thami Cele, who died last week.

“When I first met Thami, he was a professional boxer way back in the 70’s. He was also an actor and we became friends. This was right at the beginning of my acting career. He was in one of my first plays, Too Harsh in which he was the main actor He was brilliant. He was a big guy, very well built and he had a huge presence on the stage.

“After that, I went to Johannesburg to join Gibson Kente and we parted company,” Ngema remembers. “While I was doing Woza Albert, I wrote Asinamali and we were reunited in the early 80’s because he was one of the five original cast members. Asinamali was presented here in South Africa, then went on to Broadway and performed all over the world after that. He was one of those brilliant stage actors you never forget. I will miss him greatly as part of the Committed Artists family.”

The artSMart review by Caroline Smart of Asinamali’s season at The Playhouse in 2004 describes Thami Cele as always being a very compelling performer and a delight to watch.” The storyline deals with five inmates of Leeuwkop Prison and as the play progresses, they describe the circumstances that brought them to their incarceration. It’s hard to single out any one actor as this is such a well-constructed and presented ensemble piece but individually they all shine.”

The funeral will take place on January 28 at 10h00 at the Assemblies of God in Clermont, after which his body will be laid to rest in the Ashley Cemetery in Pinetown.