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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Statement of the Office of Thabo Mbeki on the passing of photographer, Alf Kumalo

October 21, 2012 - Former President Thabo Mbeki has learnt with sadness, the passing away of veteran photographer, Alf Kumalo.

Out of a career spanning over 50 years, Kumalo used the lens of the camera to capture South African social and political life and thus put an image to the joys, trials and tribulations of ordinary people.

The former President said of Kumalo: “Alf Kumalo was more than a documentary photo journalist. He was, above all, one of South Africa’s eminent historians. 

“No one could contradict the truth of what he captured so competently through the lens. Aware that the power of his narrative was unimpeachable, the apartheid regime subjected him to constant harassment in the hope that Kumalo, a humble and tenacious man of integrity, would abandon his work or sell his soul altogether. He did not.”

The former President added that Kumalo’s life and work is part of “a national treasure” which must be preserved for current and future generations as an account of our recent history, as works of art and as a moral statement about the kind of society we should never be.

As a self-taught photographer who became one of the best in the field, Kumalo was an example of what dedication, hard work and commitment to life-long learning can yield. Young people in pursuit of all professions have much to learn from his qualities.

In recognition of his excellent contribution to documentary photography and journalism in South Africa, President Mbeki awarded Alf Khumalo with the Order of Ikhamanga, South Africa’s highest award for excellence in the creative arts in 2004.

In October 2002, the civic-spirited Kumalo opened the Alf Kumalo Photographic Museum in Diepkloof, Soweto, to teach young people photography. Unfortunately, the museum is struggling financially. Former President Mbeki called on South Africans to contribute materially to keep the museum alive. 

Issued by the Office of Thabo Mbeki, Johannesburg. For more information, please contact Mukoni Ratshitanga on             +27 82 300 3447    .

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