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WATCH | John Kani on receiving the prestigious international Pragnell Shakespeare Award 2021

03 May 2021 - 14:00 By kyle zeeman

Veteran actor John Kani was the toast of England’s West Midlands this past weekend when he was honoured with the Pragnell Shakespeare Award from the Shakespeare Institute in the UK for his play Kunene and the King.

The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the usual procession, performances and speech-giving lunch that accompanied the award were all cancelled, and the handover done digitally.

Prof Michael Dobson of the University of Birmingham honoured John, praising his work and the impact it has had on theatre around the world.

In his acceptance speech, John recounted one of his first experiences with the works of Shakespeare and its role in inspiring anti-apartheid leaders.

“Shakespeare has been an integral part of my life ... you find that Shakespeare transcends culture, geography, lands, ethnicity, groups. He is a heritage to everybody who walks this earth. 

“Therefore, it is my great honour to accept this prize with incredible humility. It will be one of the things that will be a highlight of my life.”

According to the Pragnell website, the award recognises achievement in appreciation and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare and the progress of Shakespearean knowledge.

Last year John received a Lifetime Achievement award from Golden Elephant productions. 

At a ceremony held in his honour, the Black Panther star said he did not realise how much interest there was in his career and work.