Famous and Powerful John Kani Quotes That Will always be Remembered

I’ve compiled some of the most inspiring John Kani Quotes.

Bonisile John Kani is a South African actor, author, director, and playwright who was born on August 30, 1943. He is most recognized for his roles as T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War, and other roles in Black Panther, Rafiki in The Lion King, and Colonel Ulenga in the Netflix film Murder Mystery.

Kani returned to South Africa in 1975, after appearing in the anti-apartheid drama ‘Sizwe Banzi Is Dead,’ which he also co-wrote. He received a phone call telling him that his father wanted to meet him. He was surrounded by policemen on his way there, who beat him and left him for dead. As a result of the assault, he lost his left eye.

Kani’s work has been seen all over the world, including New York, where he and Winston Ntshona received a Tony Award for Sizwe Banzi Is Dead in 1975.

Kani is the executive trustee of the John Kani Theatre Foundation, the founder and director of the John Kani Theatre Laboratory, and the head of the South African National Arts Council.

Kani received a SAFTA Life time  Award on February 20, 2010. He has also been honored by the South African cinema, television, and advertising industry with the Avanti Hall of Fame Award.

The University of Cape Town bestowed upon him an honorary doctorate in 2006, and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in 2013.

Kani was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver in 2016 for his “excellent contributions to theatre and, through this, the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist, and democratic South Africa.

25 John Kani Quotes

  1. “I spent 51 years under apartheid. I don’t imagine suffering. I know it.”

2. “Protest theater has a place again. It’s not against whites or apartheid. It is against injustice and anything that fails our people.”

3. “My stories are about humanity, about the challenges of surviving and the constant fight against ignorance, inhumanity and complacency.”

4. “It dawned on me that theatre is a powerful weapon for change.”

5. “This is the problem I have: I write a play and I give it to a director and they say, ‘I’ll do it one condition: if you play the role.”

6. “I write about the human condition, as a South African. I sometimes see South Africa with the spectacles of the past and there will then be a political content in my writing.”

7. “I want my work to contribute toward creating a better society, toward bringing people together. That is always the first consideration, not the money.”

8. “I will always vote. I have done so, ever since 1994.”

9. “Whenever I play Shakespeare, I keep thinking, ‘how did this Englishman know so much about me?”

10. “I had to look at white people as fellow South Africans and fellow partners in building a new South Africa.”

11. “Before 1994, many South Africans used theater as a voice of protest against the government. But with the end of apartheid, like the artists who watched the fall of the Iron Curtain in Europe, theater had to find new voices and search for new issues.”

12. “Yes, we have the judiciary, the Constitution, we’re fighting racism on a daily basis, but these are all state efforts and are not the efforts of the individual. The individual has to commit to change, the individual has to look at the past and take accountability of the past; for the wound to heal we have to dress it together.”

 John Kani quotes

13. “My love, my passion, my everything is this continent of Africa. I have always celebrated African humanity.”

14. “We’ve got the right to vote, but what does it mean? People now want to have the right to a job, the right to education, the right to medical services.”

15. “Acting became a powerful tool for change. You had to tell stories that were important to you.”

16. “The exchange rate of the Rand against the dollar, pound or euro makes South Africa an attractive location. The positive side of this is it gives our artists and technicians an opportunity to work.”

17. “In 1990 there were about 300 scripts being written demanding the release of Nelson Mandela. And suddenly we watched Mandela walking out of prison. So those scripts had to be destroyed.”

18. “You found during apartheid a strange occurrence from the white folks themselves. There were those who did make a choice to speak out and stand and be counted in the army of human beings who believed in justice. And then there are those who left.”

19. “Shakespeare’s words paint pictures in glorious colour in my language. They were written by a man whose use of words fits exactly into Xhosa.”

20. “It is ridiculous to think we can erase racism in South Africa, but through theater there can be a genuine attempt to move on with our lives and build a better country.”

21. “In South Africa, we’ve been watching these movies all our lives – ‘Batman,’ ‘Superman,’ ‘Captain America’ – and every time the mask comes off, it’s a white man.”

22. “Sizwe’ is the beginning of protest theatre; ‘Nothing But The Truth’ is post-apartheid South Africa.”

23. “Apartheid is a lie, people can work together, people can create together.”

24. “The government harasses everything. The government must keep a constant surveillance of all activities by black people in order to maintain their reign over them, especially when they are in a minority.”

25. “When the situation politically became intolerable within South Africa, we used the arts as a weapon for change.”

My favorite John Kani quotes are, “My love, my passion, my everything is this continent of Africa. I have always celebrated African humanity.” and “Apartheid is a lie, people can work together, people can create together.”

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