Alf Kumalo - A life in pictures

By Drum Digital
26 October 2012

DRUM’s Kaizer Ngwenya reflects on the life of legendary photographer?– and friend – Alf Kumalo

HE WAS a rare breed and will always be remembered for his courage and brilliance as a photojournalist.

Alf Kumalo, the world-renowned photographer who chronicled our history for more than 50 years, died in his sleep aged 82, at his home in a retirement village in Midrand, Gauteng on 21 October.

He’d been bravely fighting prostate cancer for some time. Alf had been seriously ill for five months and had been in and out of hospital.

Two days before he passed away I spoke to his brother, photographer Len Kumalo, who gave me directions to Alf’s home. Sadly, when I got there, I was told that he was resting and I couldn’t see him.

I’d known Alf for more than 40 years, long before I became a journalist. When I met him he lived in Senaoane township in Soweto, just a rifle shot from my home. At the time, he was working for the Sunday Times after the Golden City Post had closed down.

Sometimes on my way to catch a school bus to Pimville, where I attended high school, I’d see Alf waiting for the press car outside his home. He was always impeccably dressed in a suit with two Nikon cameras hanging from his shoulders. He was already a famous photographer but was so humble. I’d feel really good inside every time he responded with a warm smile to my greeting.

There were other journalists living in Senaoane then – Percy Qoboza, editor of The World, Derrick Thema and Charlton Piliso but it was Alf whom I admired the most. He was one of the people who inspired and encouraged me to become a journalist.

There was a lump in my throat when Media24 CEO Esmaré Weideman and I presented him with the DRUM Legends Award at DRUM’s 60th anniversary celebration held at Caesar’s Palace in Kempton Park last year.

I was so in awe of his talent and all his achievements, which were incredibly varied.

Read more in DRUM - 1 November 2012

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