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South African photographer Alfred Kumalo dies aged 82

  • A picture taken on July 12, 2006 shows former South African President Nelson Mandela (C) with two acclaimed photographers, Alf Kumalo (R) and Jurgen Schadeberg, at the launch of their photographic exhibition, called "Madiba: Public and Private." AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: South African photographer Alfred (Alf) Kumalo, who chronicled his country's transformation from apartheid to democracy, died Sunday of kidney failure in Johannesburg at the age of 82, local media reported.

Born in 1930 in the Alexandra township in Johannesburg, Kumalo became a photojournalist at the age of 21.

During his career, he covered the span of the apartheid era, including Nelson Mandela's wedding to Winnie in 1957, the Soweto uprising in 1976 and the state of emergency in the 1980s, as well as Mandela's presidency from 1994.

Kumalo also worked for Drum Magazine, a trailblazing publication for the black population. Many referred to him as Bra' Alf, using a nickname meaning "brother".

"His career as a photographer, beginning in 1951, mirrored the rise in Mr Mandela’s political career and Bra’ Alf photographed many of the historic events in which he played a key role," said Mandela's organisation at the lensman's passing.

President Jacob Zuma also hailed Kumalo's extraordinary documentation of the nation's history.

"We have lost an outstanding individual and a great South African. He was a meticulous photographer and his work will live on forever as a monument to the people's resilience and fortitude in the face of colonial oppression and apartheid," Zuma said.

Kumalo never really retired, having founded and run the Alf Kumalo Museum in Soweto, where he showcased some of his work and taught photography until his death.

In 2010 he published a book titled -- "8115: A Prisoner's Home", which is a collection of photographs of the Mandela family from the 1960s to the 90s.

8115 is the number of Mandela's former house in Soweto.

 
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