SABC News - SA mourns death of Alf Kumalo:Monday 22 October 2012

SA mourns death of Alf Kumalo

Monday 22 October 2012 05:18


South Africa is mourning the death of world-acclaimed photographer Alf Kumalo. He died of suspected kidney failure at the age of 82, yesterday.


Kumalo was one of South Africa's most renowned photojournalists and documentary photographers. He was born in Alexandra and began his career at the Bantu World in 1951 and spanned six decades. 


Kumalo was at the forefront of documenting critical moments in South Africa's history, including the protracted Treason and Rivonia Trials. Former president Nelson Mandela was a key figure in both court cases. Kumalo first met Mandela during a court case in the Vaal Triangle. 

Kumalo also captured the emergence of the Black Consciousness movement, the 1976 Soweto student uprising and the States of Emergency in the mid-to-late 1980s. He earned a reputation for taking iconic portraits of well-known South Africans and international heroes, such as former President Nelson Mandela and his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Steve Biko, Desmond Tutu, Oliver Tambo, Hugh Masekela, Caiphus Semenya, Kaizer Motaung, Muhammad Ali and Pele.  


Kumalo reportedly had the largest photo-collection of Madikizela-Mandela and her two daughters Zenani and Zindzi - most of which were taken when Madiba was jailed on Robben Island. 

Another award-winning and seasoned photographer, David Goldblatt, was shocked to learn of Kumalo's death. Goldblatt says Bro Alf, as he called him, will be sorely missed.


During his lifetime, Kumalo was honoured with the National Order of Ikamanga in Silver for his "excellent" contribution to photography in South Africa; Sanef's Nat Nakasa Award of media integrity and also the Vodacom Lifetime Achievement Award.  The editor of The Star newspaper, Makhudu Sefara, says he'll always remember Kumalo for his humility.


He was arrested, detained and harassed many times for his work.


At the time of his death, Kumalo was running a photography school in Soweto for poor youths. He also has a photographic museum where his work is portrayed.

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