He was nicknamed Black Cat Nkawu Cele during his career in soccer, he was a goalkeeper for Ama-Zulu F.C. and because of his complexion he was nicknamed Black Cat. But most of all the skills that he showed when he was a goalkeeper gave him the name Nkawu (Monkey) because he could stretch for the ball like a monkey and catch it. Soccer was his game but as he up grew he ventured into acting which he never received formal training for.
He learnt most of his skills from different directors who directed him. He can be described as the fittest of the fittest men that never forgot that training was part of his daily routine. Cele is one man who wanted to focus on learning his script and he knew that directing was not for him. The last man to direct him in the play “Bayede Shaka The Spear Is Born” Edmund Mhlongo said, “Henry Cele was very punctual and disciplined. Cele was highly exploited by directors and he never received the credit he deserved and he died bitter.” When we asked Mhlongo about the reception he received when he approached Cele for the play Bayede Shaka, The Spear Is Born. Mhlongo said, “Henry was shocked to be approached by me for the part in Bayede Shaka.” Henry Cele received the Plum Award from the SABC for his outstanding performance. Mhlongo feels that Cele has left a huge legacy for all South Africans and is currently planning a documentary that would teach the youth of South Africa about the life of Cele. Cele was given outstanding treatment when he was abroad but South Africans failed to acknowledge him.
Thank you to Edmund Mhlongo, Director of Ekhaya Multi Art Centre, KwaMashu, for the information that he shared with us.