As I'm sure you have been reading in the papers and on the social networks today, award-winning legendary South African photographer, Alf Khumalo passed away yesterday at the age of 82. You can't say you know the story of South African popular culture without taking from its cauldron of images that were captured by the greatest documenters of our beautiful and ugly history, the likes of Jurgen Schadeburg, Peter Magubane, David Goldblatt, Kevin Carter and of course Alf Khumalo.
These men and their work will forever be etched into our history because they were brave enough to tell stories that were never meant to be seen by the world. Of course it was not all about doom and uncovering the evils of apartheid, but about capturing the resilience of black South Africans, all the joys they still experienced at night clubs, shebeens, on dancefloors and in their dining rooms despite their reality. I haven't seen his entire body of work, hopefully there will be a retrospective by some clever gallery or organisation now that he is no longer here, but these are among my favourite images by him. The first is of the newly married Winnie and Nelson Mandela with their first child Zenani. The second is of a group of ANC supporters outside the court during the famous Rivonia Trial in 1963 at which Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. The third is of Winnie Mandela outside that same court during the trial.
Of course he did not only photograph famous people, he made a name for himself by photographing ordinary people, one of whom was Cassius Clay, who he only discovered was super famous after having photographed him in London. Death is the end of the labyrinth that is life. I believe it is only worth it if you leave something for people to remember you by. Alf Khumalo's efforts will ensure that we never forget who we are and where we come from. And for that, we thank you Mr Khumalo. Go well. For more images by Alf Khumalo, try these sites or buy his books, Alf Khumalo: South African Photographer and Mandela: Echoes of an Era