The Order of Mendi for Bravery in
Profile of Alfred Duma
Alfred Duma is one of those brave comrades who were born at a time when hope for liberation was non-existent. However, as a forward-thinking man, he joined a small group of men and women who were not going to allow man-made limitations to pull them down.
Duma is a trade unionist with a long history and credentials relating to the struggle for the liberation of the people of South Africa. He was born in April 1927, in Mnambithi, KwaZulu-Natal. He joined the ANC and the then South African Trade Union (SATU) in 1952. When the call to take up arms was made in 1961, Duma did not hesitate to join Umkhonto we Sizwe. He faced and dealt with many dangerous situations in the bush, at some stage rationing limited provisions among many hungry comrades to keep alive.
When the ANC was banned, Duma joined and became Chairman of the Umviko Party to fight against the dispossession of land in the Bester area near Mnambithi. His vocal opinions against the apartheid system led to his arrest and 10-year sentence. He endured great suffering at the hands of the security police.
From 1964 to 1974, Duma was a political prisoner on Robben Island, where he learnt to deal with hardship through humour, but never losing the focus of the fight against apartheid. Comrades know him for his humour that lightened up the mood in times of hopeless, dark situations. To keep a communication link with the outside world, Duma and other comrades sent letters through Nelson Mandela, who later became South Africa’s first democratically elected President.
Although Duma is retired, he continues to inspire young people within the ANC with the rich legacy and spellbinding stories of the struggle. He lives a peaceful life in KwaZulu-Natal.