Let's laud icons before they die

When Henry Cele went to the podium to receive his Golden Tulip award at the Kyalami Castle, I had mixed feelings of excitement and sadness.

When Henry Cele went to the podium to receive his Golden Tulip award at the Kyalami Castle, I had mixed feelings of excitement and sadness.

Excited that Cele was finally receiving the accolade that was due to him. I don't know any other person who would make a credible Shaka Zulu. Not only did he excel in the character, but he claimed and owned it.

Any actor, who in future is cast in this role, will have a problem because people use Cele as a yardstick to measure his ability.

It was really good to see other forgotten faces from the past having their moment under the spotlight. These are the people who kept a generation glued to the small screen.

For a while it seemed as if they had served their purpose and were, therefore, cast aside like used tissues. In fact, therein lies my sadness.

When the likes of Cele were in the skiet 'n donder movie era, they were barely making money. They enjoyed the limelight but the white production houses made all the money. When the golden era finally dawned, these actors were cast aside, making room for the youngsters.

Again here lies a vacuum. Young actors who had grown up idolising the likes of the late Roseline Morapeli, David Se-Puma, Mike Makgalemele, Julia Mazamisa, and the very much alive Boikie Mohlamme, Boikie Pholo, Peter Se-Puma, Joe Mafela, Connie Chiume, among a long list, should have been given a chance to learn from them. Instead there was no baton handed down and the youngsters were simply thrown in at the deep end.

As South Africans we really take pride in talking about how good people were over their coffins. Do we like the sob stories of people dying as paupers?

We have forgotten about the likes of Cele. Are we waiting for him to die before we can all spring into action, eulogising his sheer brilliance as an actor?

Gushing over him while he is still alive to appreciate it makes more sense to me. Let us indirectly feed and clothe him while still in this valley where these things are crucial to him.

The many, and I speak for his peers as well, are still able, willing and ready to kick butt. If Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier and Danny Glover can still act, command respect globally and remain in demand, what is wrong with us treating our own like this?

Africans across the length and breadth of the mother continent know just how much we revere our old. They are fountains of wisdom, custodians of knowledge and nurturers of our rich idiom.

If we turn our backs on them, we are doomed to generations of blind individuals, devoid of wisdom, heritage and pride essential in guiding our children who are tomorrow's leaders.

Come on South Africa, let us stop condemning people to their slow death when they still have a lot of living in them, or kanjani .

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