South African “Shaka Zulu” actor Henry Cele died in a Durban hospital Nov. 2, two weeks after being admitted with a chest infection. He was 58.
Cele shot to fame in 1986 when he played the Zulu king and warrior Shaka Zulu in a 1986 television miniseries directed by William C Faure for the South African Broadcasting Corp. Written by Joshua Sinclair based on his book of the same name, it told the story of Shaka, king of the Zulu nation from 1816 to 1828.
In 1987, Cele — known for his strong, chiseled features and powerful portrayal of the Zulu warrior –again played Shaka in a feature film, also directed by Faure and starring Christopher Lee and Edward Fox.
He continued to perform in film, television and theater during his 20-year career including in “The Ghost and the Darkness,” “Point of Impact” and “The Last Samurai.”
Before he became an actor, Cele was a professional soccer player during the 1970s, known as the Black Cat for his agility as a goalkeeper. Since 1996, he also spent time coaching underprivileged youths in soccer.
He leaves his wife Jenny Hollander and four sons from a previous marriage.