He was the first black actor to play Othello in South AfricaSeven years before the end of apartheid, in 1987, John became the first black South African actor to play Othello on stage.
John Kani was born Bonisile John Kani on 30 August 1943 in New Brighton, Eastern Cape. He studied at Newell High School and he graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. John Kani, is a South African actor, author, director, and playwright.
He gained international recognition for portraying T’Chaka in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films; Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Black Panther (2018), Rafiki: Remake of the Lion King (2019), and Colonel Ulenga: Murder Mystery (2019). In the article are the top ten amazing facts about John Kani.
1. He was a victim of police brutality
.It is very sad for a country to lose its people in the hands of fierce policemen. It is by the law that policemen are supposed to keep law and order and on top of that help maintain the security of people around the stations. It is unavoidable that bad people have to be eliminated from the good people but the means of elimination must be according to the law.
In 1975, John Kani was wronged by South African policemen. He had returned from the United States after appearing in Athol Fugard’s anti-apartheid Sizwe Banzi is Dead. John Kani also co-wrote the play. While in South Africa, John received a phone call saying that his father wanted to see him.
The policemen then surrounded John Kani on his way to his father. He was beaten to death but fortunately, he survived the beating. He Kani lost his left eye but that would not stop him from pursuing his dream determinedly. He now wears a prosthesis due to the incident of 1975.
2. His son is also an actor
John Kani married Mandi Kani and the two were blessed with a son Atandwa Kani. Even though it is not scientifically nor Biblically proved that talent or dream genes can be passed down to offspring, then a miracle must have happened in Kani’s family.
Atandwa Kani is also an actor! Atandwa made his debut on United States television on the CW Series Life Is Wild. Atandwa also played a younger version of his father’s character T’Chaka in Black panther.
3. John Kani played William Shakespeare’s Othello
It was in 1987 when John Kani played Othello in a performance of William Shakespeare’s “Othello” in South Africa. South Africa was then under the Apartheid regime. It was ten that Kani said that at least he would kiss Desdemona without leaving a smudge.
Desdemona was a character by William Shakespeare in the play Othello. She is a Venetian beauty who enrages and disappoints her father, a Venetian senator. Desdemona elopes with Othello, a Moorish Venetian military prodigy…
4. John Kani made his debut for “Nothing but the Truth”
Nothing but the Truth is a 2002 play. The play was first performed in the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. The play takes place in post-apartheid South Africa and it does not bring concern about the conflicts between whites and blacks.
It portrays the schism between blacks who stayed in South Africa to fight apartheid and those who left and returned when the hated regime folded. The play won the 2003 Fleur du Cap Awards for the best actor and the best new South African play.
5. He appeared in the film Murder Mystery
Murder Mystery is a 2019 American comedy-mystery film. It was directed and written by James Vanderbilt. The film stars Adam Sandler, Jeniffer Aniston, and Luke Evans. It is about a married couple who are caught up in a murder investigation on a billionaire’s yacht. The movie was distributed by Netflix on 14 June 2019.
John Kani appears in the film as colonel Ulenga. Colonel Ulenga was also on the yacht of the billionaire. Quincy married Ulenga’s wife while Ulenga was in a coma after saving Quincy’s life. The wife died with an unborn child…
6. The main theatre of the Market Theatre was honored in his name
The main theatre of the Market Theater complex is situated in Newtown, Johanessburg. The theatre complex was renamed the John Kani Theatre. This was to honor John Kani. The theatre was opened in 1976 and operated independently as an anti-racist theater during the county’s apartheid regime.
7. John Kani has received many awards
On 20 February 20, Kani received a SAFTA LifeTime Award. He also received the Avanti Hall of Fame Award from the South African film, television, and advertising industries, an M-Net award, and a Clio Award in Newyork.
Of course, the so-far stated awards are not the only awards that John Kani has received in his entire career. He has other awards like the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation Award for the year 2000 and the Olive Schreiner Prize for 2005.
8. John Kani has received many honors
Apart from the John Kani Theatre honor, John Kani has received many other major honors. In 2006, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Capetown. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University where he graduated appointed him an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in 2013.
In 2016 John Kani received the national honor of the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver. In 2020 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Witwatersrand.
9. John Kani is known to be a gentleman
John Kani has a down-to-earth personality and charming demeanor. This is the reason why he received his 2016 national honor of the Order of Ikhamanga Silver. This was because of his excellent contributions to the theatre. Also, he is a man of virtues. He struggled for a non-racial, non-sexist, and democratic South Africa.
10. Kani had a great impact on Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman was an American actor. He received international fame for playing the superhero Black Panther in the Cinematic Universe from 2016 to 2019. The fact that John Kani was a Xhosa native speaker led Chadwick Boseman to make that Wakanda’s language.
Chadwick learned whole scenes in Xhosa. Take note that Chadwick never studied the language before but played as Kani’s son T’Chala on the Black Panther speaking fluent Xhosa language
John Kani is a great man in South African theatre and still will be as he was thereafter. He has gained an international reputation for his ability and he never fails to impress the general public. He is the executive trustee of the John Kani Theater Foundation and the director of the John Kani Theatre Laboratory.