By Roger Friedman and Benny Gool
Self-taught documentary photographer Alf Khumalo was a living legend who inspired generations of journalists with his quiet professionalism, unassuming presence and his work ethic.
He had an uncanny ability to be exactly where he needed to be to get the picture, though few ever noticed of knew how he gotthere. His images bear testimony to many of the most important moments in South Africa’s history over the past 60 years.The material of which he was most proud included his documentation of the Rivonia Trial, where the ANC leadership was sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment, his iconic photographs of Winnie Mandela and her daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, and his Muhammad Ali portfolio, that included the infamous “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman, in Kinshasa, in 1974.
Khumalo also took seminal photographs of theSoweto student insurrection in 1976, the State of Emergency in the 1980s, and South Africa’s freedom in the 1990s.
Among a string of honours and awards that hereceived were the National Order of Ikhamanga,, South Africa’s highest award for excellence in the creative arts.
He continued to run a small office at The Star newspaper almost until the end, although much of his focus over the last 10years of his life was on developing the photographic museum he established at his former Soweto home 10 years ago.
We were privileged to work alongside Khumalo as journalists, and also, more recently, to work with him and his photographs in the curating and design of exhibitions for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, among others.
One of his joys after a lifetime of work was the cottage he bought in Langebaan, near Cape Town – though he was a little embarrassed at the thought of owning a property at the coast.
He was a father of our profession, and will be sorely missed.