When you see the name Ji-Tu, your brain probably checks its card catalog for best matches and then pulls up the sport jujitsu. But he is not jujitsu; he’s a veteran actor.
You may recognize Ji-Tu Combuka from his acting roles in Roots, Harlem Nights, Brewster’s Millions, Mandingo, or Bound for Glory. In a time where black actors are currently protesting the lack of roles for minorities (specifically African-Americans), we can look to Cumbuka as a successful actor of over a hundred films and television series, spanning the decades.
And, yes, Ji-Tu is his given name. Per the site agianttoremember.com, it was all Cumbuka’s grandmother’s idea. In Swahili, “Ji-Tu” means giant, and “Cumbuka means “to remember.” How she knew he was going to grow up to be 6’5″ is another question altogether.
Born in Alabama on March 4, 1942 to a Baptist minister who believed acting was “the devil’s work,” Cumbuka grew up in…
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