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Ken Gampu (28 August 1929 – 4 November 2003) was a South African actor.

Ken Gampu
Born(1929-08-28)28 August 1929
Died4 November 2003(2003-11-04) (aged 74)
Years active1958 - 2001

Before he began his career, Gampu was a physical training instructor, salesman, interpreter and police officer. His first acting job was in Athol Fugard's play, No Good Friday (1958). His big break came in the 1965 film Dingaka by Jamie Uys. The same year, he had a significant role in Cornel Wilde's African adventure film, The Naked Prey.


Gampu was the son of Morrison Gampu, a former Bantu government interpreter who later became an actor himself.[1]


1950s to 1970sEdit

In the 1973 action film, Joe Bullet, Gampu was featured in the lead role playing the part of a strong action man, Joe Bullet. The character was described by The Guardian as being modeled on something between Shaft and James Bond. Bullet drunk alcohol, drove sports cars, did karate, throws knives and climbs up mineshafts.[2] It was independently released in 1973, and it played at the Eyethu cinema in Soweto. It was screened twice then the film was banned.[3] This was done because the South African government at the time were concerned how it may influence the aspirations of black South Africans. For about 40 years the original film reels were stored in a box in the back of producer Tonie van der Merwe's garage gathering dust. He hung on to the reels during the course of 40 years.[4] announced on January 24, 2017, that after 44 years of absence, the film was to be screened at the Bioscope Independent Cinema in Johannesburg on January 24 and at The Company Gardens in Cape Town on January 25.[5]

In Death of a Snowman, Gampu played a no-nonsense beat reporter trying to get the scoop on mysterious Mr. X. He is aided by a detective friend he has on the police force (played by Nigel Davenport.[6]

1980s - 2000sEdit

Playing the part of Khumalo, Gampu co-starred with Ian Yule and Tamara Franke in the 1982 film Shamwari. [7]


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Tremor
1961 The Hellions Kanna Uncredited
1964 Dingaka Ntuku Makwena
1965 The Naked Prey Leader of the Warriors
1966 All the Way to Paris Sudanese Delegate at Conference Uncredited
1972 Rogue Lion Mashoda
1973 Joe Bullet Joe Bullet
1974 Pens en Pootjies Diamond seller
1974 La diosa virgen Gampu
1975 Forever Young, Forever Free Thomas Luke
1976 Death of a Snowman Chaka
1977 Target of an Assassin Minister Manga
1977 Mister Deathman Sue
1978 Slavers Musulma
1978 The Wild Geese Alexander
1979 Zulu Dawn Mantshonga
1979 King Solomon's Treasure Umpslopogas
1979 Game for Vultures Sixpence
1980 The Gods Must Be Crazy President
1980 Flashpoint Africa Matari (Eddie Nkoya)
1981 Kill and Kill Again Gorilla
1982 Shamwari Khumalo
1982 Bullet on the Run Joe Bullet
1982 Tuxedo Warrior Inspector Nderi
1985 Morenga Morenga
1985 Van der Merwe P.I. Wiley
1985 King Solomon's Mines Umbopo
1986 Jake Speed Joe Smith
1987 Scavengers Dr. Nduma
1987 Operation Hit Squad Ken
1987 City of Blood Black Leader
1988 The Emissary Beamish
1988 Diamonds High Zwide
1988 Bush Shrink Gapu
1988 Act of Piracy Herb Bunting
1988 The Rutanga Tapes President Mbule
1989 Enemy Unseen Malanga
1989 Laser Mission Hotel Clerk Uncredited
1990 American Ninja 4: The Annihilation Dr. Tamba
1990 Voice in the Dark Caxton
1990 Fatal Mission President Tembu
1990 Kwagga Strikes Back Tjicombo
1992 Lethal Ninja Ndumo
1994 The Air Up There Itumbo
1994 Cyborg Cop II Police Chief
1995 Hearts & Minds Chopper-Xuza
1996 Le complot d'Aristote Policeman
1997 Fools Elder 1
1999 A Reasonable Man Headman
2001 Malunde Baba Gusha
2001 Askari Ndhlovu (final film role)


External linksEdit