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WATCH: Dr John Kani takes it back to ‘Wakanda’ as he receives his honorary doctorate

Dr John Kani. Picture: Facebook

Dr John Kani. Picture: Facebook

Published Apr 28, 2022


Renowned South African actor and playwright Dr John Kani has finally received his honorary doctorate degree in literature at Wits University.

Kani was awarded the degree in 2020, for his extensive contribution to the global creative landscape. However, he only took possession of it at the awards ceremony on Tuesday, which had to be delayed due to the country going into a Covid-19 lockdown.

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In a video clip shared on the Wits social media page, the “Black Panther” star is seen walking the stage and, to everyone’s delight, he took a belief moment to do the celebratory Wakanda salute, which many refer to as a symbol of “black pride”.

Taking to Instagram, Wits University shared the momentous occasion with a caption: “#WitsGrads: Legendary artist and activist, Dr John Kani, today had his chance to ceremoniously walk the graduations stage to be capped for his honorary Doctor of Literature degree awarded to him in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

WATCH | 😍Wait for it ... #Wakanda #WakandaForEver #KingTChaka“

The Wakanda salute or sign was first performed in the 2018 blockbuster film “Black Panther”.

The cast and crew of the movie, including the late Chadwick Boseman and Kani himself, made the Wakanda salute popular across the world when the actors started making the crossed arms gesture at every chance they got.

In 2021, Kani was awarded the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award.

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The honour came two years after Kani launched his original play “Kunene and the King”, which premiered in London’s Royal Shakespeare Company in 2019.

Written by Kani, it was a co-production for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Fugard Theatre, was directed by Janice Honeyman and starred Kani and Antony Sher.

“Kunene and King” is set in post-apartheid South Africa, 25 years after the first democratic elections.

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The play is centred around two characters, a successful but chronically sick white elderly male, played by Sher and his black male nurse, played by Kani.

The two men who hail from vastly different backgrounds are thrust into an uncomfortable closeness to reflect on the changes that have taken place in South Africa.

Through it all, their shared passion for Shakespeare’s works takes their connection to new heights. In one moving scene, Sher and Kani recite a funeral speech from Caesar. Sher starts in English and Kani finishes off in isiXhosa.

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With an illustrious career spanning over five decades, Kani has made appearances in several shows including ”The Tempest”, “Hamlet”, “Sizwe Banzi Is Dead”, “The Island” and “Othello”.

A recent performance was in the Netflix “Murder Mystery”, where he played Colonel Ulenga.

He also voiced Rafiki in the 2019 remake of “The Lion King”.