Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo was born on 16 September 1947 in Kwambunda village on the banks of the Blood River in Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal).In 1947 the Kumalo family moved to Evaton, a township south of Johannesburg, Transvaal (now Gauteng) where he grew up near Vereeniging. His father was a carpenter and preacher and his mother a counselor and midwife who was also gifted in handicrafts.His political consciousness was shaped early, as his father took him to hear Nelson Mandela and other leaders speak at political rallies.Kumalo attended Wilberforce College in Evaton in 1967, a school established by American missionaries of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.He helped pave the streets of Johannesburg in the 1920s,and became a member of the African National Congress.

He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Africa and a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University, where he participated in a multinational foreign journalists' project in 1973-1974. In 1997, he attended the International Seminar on Security and Diplomacy in Geneva, Switzerland.Kumalo started his career in 1967 as a reporter at the Golden City Post. In 1969-1970, he was a feature writer for Drum magazine, and in 1970 he became a political reporter at the Johannesburg Sunday Times. In 1976, he started work as Marketing Executive Officer at Total Oil Company, but left that job in 1977, when he was forced into exile for his anti-apartheid activities and left the country after police raided his home and threatened him with arrest. He was one of the founders of the Union of Black Journalists (UBJ) in South Africa.He sought asylum in the United States of America (USA), where he continued his political activity. As Project Director at the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and its sister organization The Africa Fund from 1979 to 1997 he played a key role in the mobilization of USA sanctions against apartheid, helping to build the divestment movement which led to 28 states, 24 counties and more than 90 cities and 155 colleges and universities divesting from American banks and companies which did business with the South African government. He visited almost every state in the USA, testifying before state legislatures and city councils and speaking in communities and at countless colleges and universities.

Kumalo was the South African Permanent Representative to the United Nations, from 1999 until 2009.Prior to this, Kumalo was Director of the United States Desk at South Africa’s Department of Foreign Affairs (now Department of International Relations and Cooperation – DIRCO). He assumed that position in 1997 upon his return from a 20-year exile, during which he worked as an International Education Program Coordinator at Phelps Stokes Fund in New York (1978-1980), and Projects Director for the Africa Fund and the American Committee on Africa (1980-1997). From 1982 to 1997, he also delivered lectures on South Africa at colleges and universities in the United States of America (USA).Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo passed away on 20 January 2019 in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.

Further reading list

Collections in the Archives