By Edward Tsumele
Tributes continued to pour for most of this week for fallen press photographer Lucky Nxumalo who passed on Sunday at his Orlando home. He succumbed to cancer. In most of the tributes from colleagues, friends and people he had known over the years, one thread ran through in all the messaging -and that is that Nxumalo, who has worked at quite a n umber of publications in the country, including City Press, Sowetan and his last job being at Daily Sun, always wore a smile.
The truth is Nxumalo was a humanitarian who also distinguished himself is a hard working profession who loved taking pictures. In fact the late photographer was quite competitive on assignments, always wanting to take a picture from a unique position that no one else would. I worked with him at Sowetan and he never failed to deliver quality pictures of mainly of celebrities and artists that I interviewed.
Nxumalo was also known for a rare quality in journalism, and that is that he never touched alcohol, something rare in this profession that is as much known for producing quality stories and features, as it is for producing people who love the bottle. And because he never touched alcohol, he was always a reliable driver for most of us who after taking one or two would not want to risk driving.
Nxumalo had a huge contact list of influential people in the country, and he tended to get along well with many celebrities, making working with him a pleasure. “‘The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has learned with profound sadness of the passing of Daily Sun photographer Lucky Nxumalo.
Nxumalo lost his battle to cancer on Sunday evening after a long battle against the disease at his Orlando East home in Soweto where he grew up, surrounded by his family. He had just turned 51 years old on December 2. “We have known and loved Lucky for his incredibly positive and exuberant attitude and genuine and kind spirit that touched all of us.
It shone ever so brightly in his work through his lens. The journalism industry is poorer without his contribution. He will be sorely missed by the Daily Sun family and our deepest condolences go out to his wife Tumi, his six children and his family. Funeral details will be shared in due course,” said Daily Sun’s editor-in-chief Mapula Nkosi. Nxumalo first picked up a camera in his teens earning money as a street photographer.
His journalism career as a photographer started in the mid-80s with several freelance gigs at local magazines and newspapers. Having excelled in covering various beats including entertainment, hard news and sports, he was one of rare breed of journalists who had the talent to connect with people from kings to hawkers with admirable ease.
Nxumalo nurtured all these relationships that turned his contact book and sources from all spheres of life into the envy of many journalists. Young journalists who worked with him over the years were as a result, mentored and eased into journalism using his impeccable sources.
Colleagues speak in awe of his unlimited kindness where he would always end up helping the subjects in the stories he had covered and would keep in touch with them for years to come. In his early years, he loved documenting Mzansi’s showbiz stars, particularly documenting the life and times of Brenda Fassie and other iconic showbiz trailblazers of the 90s. “Lucky knew a lot of people and he had good contacts.
I remember he was invited to Kenny Kunene’s 40th birthday party in Sandton and the “King of Sushi” ate sushi off a bikini-clad model. City Press was the only publication that had the picture on that Sunday and Lucky had taken it,” former Sowetan and City Press picture editor, Ruth Motau, recalled some of his exploits. The sushi king and that iconic picture has since become part of the history of an intriguing moment in Mzansi’s popular culture. “He would often shield us from possible danger or even offer to carry our camera gear just like a true big brother whose main concern was to protect the lives of those he cared for the most.
The industry has lost a true lensman. Lucky Nxumalo was a legend in his own right. He was truly dedicated to his craft. What a loving soul we have lost. I feel blessed to have crossed paths with him in his lifetime,” revealed multi-award winning photographer Neo Ntsoma. SANEF extends its deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Lala ngoxolo Zwide,” said a statement from SANEF. .”What a loving soul we have lost. I feel blessed to have crossed paths with him in his lifetime.
Everyone who has crossed paths with Lucky Nxumalo has had a good share of his kindness. Lux was a humanitarian as I used to call him. He had a heart of gold. He was reliable and always willing to go an extra mile. Lucky was a lifesaver. There were moments where I did not have any photographer to go on a sudden assignment at night or out of town. He always came to my rescue. He will go without hesitation,” said photographer Ruth Motau.