Cocky "Two Bull" Tlhotlhalemaje

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(b. Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, **/**/1937 - d. Johannesburg, 02/03/2012). Actor, broadcaster, musician.

Poohopedi Tlhotlhalemaje was born in Johannesburg’s Alexandra Township and became better known as Cocky “Two Bull” Tlhotlhalemaje, the Two Bull being a simple translation of his Setswana first name.


He took to the stage as a teenager and had his first break when, in 1961, visiting director Krishna Shah cast him in a local version of Tagore’s play The King of the Dark Chamber and then gave him the title role in Sponono, a play Shah had written with Alan Paton. It premiered at the ML Sultan Hall in Durban on 12 December 1962 and in April 1964 had a short run at the Cort Theatre on Broadway. Others in the touring cast were Lionel Ngakane, Caiphus Semenya and Margaret Singana. In 1970 he was in the cast of a revival of Athol Fugard's No-Good Friday. He also appeared in Godspell, first at the Maseru Holiday Inn in Lesotho and then at the Wits University Great Hall, for Des and Dawn Lindberg. He devised the original version of Isintu for the Phoenix Players, which was then reworked by Canadian director Clarence Wilson and, under the new name of Meropa, it was taken on a 3-month tour of Japan and the Far East. On their return, the show was enlarged and restaged by the Brickhill-Burke Company to re-open the refurbished His Majesty’s Theatre in Johannesburg in 1974. He received a Naledi Theatre Award in 2006.


As early as 1962, he appeared in Danish director Henning Carlsen’s anti-apartheid film Dilemma. This was followed by roles in Dingaka (Jamie Uys/1964), Knock-out (Viriato Barreto/1969), Joe Bullet (Louis de Witt/1972), The Diamond Mercenaries / Killer Force (Val Guest/1975), Mntanami / Ngwanaka (Simon Sabela & Joseph Seakatsie), Ungavimbi ezomculo (Rod Hay/1981), Safari 3000 (Harry Hurwitz/1981), Wie Laaste Lag… (Koos Roets/1986) and Scavengers (Duncan McLachlan/1986). He also narrated a 1980 documentary on the Alexandra Development Fund.


He appeared in several local and overseas television programmes and series, amongst them Der Rivonia-Prozess (Jürgen Goslar/1966), Schatzsucher unserer Tage (Rolf von Sydow & Hans-Jürgen Tögel), Omaruru (Hagen Müller-Stahl & Peter Schultze-Rohr/1976) and Les Diamants du Président (Claude Boissol).


Despite his success as an actor, he achieved his greatest fame as a radio personality. Having worked for Capital Radio and Radio SR, in the early 1980s he became the first black African to work on Talk Radio 702, which up to then had been regarded as a white radio station. According to some accounts he had been a soul singer in Angola and Portugal and it was as a disc jockey that his programme became required listening. While in the United States he had picked up something of a Harlem drawl, which became an endearing characteristic.

His funeral service at the St. Francis Anglican Church in Rockwell, Soweto was attended by thousands of mourners. He was buried at Avalon Cemetery. His wife Jeanette died in 2007. Dancer/choreographer Cassius Tlhotlhalemaje is their son. (FO)


The Star, 8 March 2012

Hilary Prendini Toffoli & Gus Silber - Who's really who in South Africa (1989)

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