Duma Kumalo

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apartheid, borderline experience, human rights, power, violence
Performing Arts (general)
Africa, Southern
South Africa
created on:
May 23, 2003
last changed on:
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Duma Kumalo
Duma Kumalo


„He Left Quietly“

In 1984 Duma Kumalo, one of the Sharpeville Six, was unjustly condemned to death by the apartheid government. After three years he was pardoned and freed only fifteen hours before the time set for execution. Together with Yael Farber and an actor, Duma Kumalo bases the docu-performance ´He left quietly´ on his experience. Duma lives in Sebokeng in South Africa.
Duma Kumalo grew up in Sharpeville in South Africa and began studying to be a teacher in 1984, the year in which he was then jailed and unjustly accused of having killed a city counsellor. On being condemned to death, he and the five others accused became known internationally as part of a case showing the corrupt legal system under apartheid.

After three years in the death-cell of one of the most infamous prisons in the country, the Sharpeville Six, as they were now internationally known, were given a date of execution. With only 15 hours to go, it was changed under intensive international pressure into lifelong imprisonment. Dhma Kumalo spent 4 further years in jail before being released in June 1991, but even then the case was never reviewed, and Duma never rehabilitated. Even a hunger-strike in protest at the verdict failed to make an impression.

Duma Kumalo grew so fed up at the sneering of the judiciary over his efforts to have the case reopened that he destroyed property of the court of law and was jailed again in 1995. During the hearings of the Truth Commission in South Africa in 1996, Duma and many others spoke out. The proceedings partly relieved and partly disillusioned him. Since being freed he has sought the rehabilitation of other folk condemned during the years of apartheid.

In 1997 Duma Kumalo appeared in Bobby Rodwell´s production ´The Story I´m about to Tell´, which went on tour nationally and internationally. His experiences were also the theme of the documentation ´Facing Life after Facing Death´ from Ingrid Gavshon. He is now a member of the Khulumani, a group founded by survivors to support the process of healing in post-apartheid communities in South Africa, and a member of Amnesty International.

The docu-performance ´He left quietly´ was commissioned by the House of World Cultures in Berlin for the drama-festival ´In Transit´ and created with the writer and director Yael Farber. An actor accompanies the dramatisation of Dumas´ life with rituals and songs. Kumalo meets his younger alter ego, with whom he goes on a journey into the past. This is a new dialogue in search of new and innovative ways of plumbing the depths of dark and destructive memories.

Events at the HKW:
13th – 15th June 2002
He Left Quietly
directed by Yael Faber
Organiser: House of World Cultures

Author: Ong Keng Sen 


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Politics of translation

Lectures on the "Politics of Translation"

(01 June 02 - 15 June 02)


Transforming the arts

(30 May 02 - 14 June 02)
from: "He Left Quietly"