Lionel Ngakane

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Lionel Ngakane (17 July 1928 – 26 November 2003) was a South African filmmaker and actor.


Born in Pretoria, South Africa,[1] Ngakane was educated at Fort Hare University College and Wits University, and worked on Drum and Zonk magazines from 1948 to 1950.[1] In 1950 he began his career in film as an assistant director and actor in the film version of Cry, the Beloved Country (1951), directed by Zoltan Korda. Shortly thereafter Ngakane went into exile in the United Kingdom. As an actor he appeared in films, including The Mark of the Hawk in 1957 (with Eartha Kitt),[2] on television - Quatermass and the Pit (1958) and the spy series Danger Man (Deadline, 1962) with Patrick McGoohan - as well as on stage, as in Errol John's Moon on a Rainbow Shawl,[3] and Wole Soyinka's play The Lion and the Jewel at the Royal Court Theatre in 1966.[4]

Ngakane returned to South Africa after the end of apartheid in 1994.

He is best remembered for his short film Jemima and Johnny (1965), inspired by the 1958 "race riots" in Notting Hill, London. It won awards at the Venice and Rimini film festivals. He also directed documentaries on apartheid and African development. He was honorary president of the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), which organization he had originated in 1967 as a lobbying group for the support of African filmmakers.[1] In 1997 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Natal.

In 2003 he was awarded the South African "Order of Ikhamanga in Silver" for his "outstanding achievement in the field of movie-making and contribution to the development of the film industry in South Africa and on the continent".[5]


  1. ^ a b c Biography at BFI ScreenOnline.
  2. ^ Keith Shiri, "Lionel Ngakane - South African film pioneer", The Guardian, 1 December 2003.
  3. ^ "Moon on a Rainbow Shawl", Black Plays Archive, National Theatre.
  4. ^ "Lion and the Jewel, The", Black Plays Archive, National Theatre.
  5. ^ "Profile of Dr Lionel Ngakane". S A National Orders. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 

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