Born in Port St John’s, Nokwe moved to Durban in 1942 and started school at eMbhoshongweni (an Indian Temple) in Somtseu Road which was under Loram Government School supervision. He was a brilliant student and soon proceeded to St Faith’s Mission in Carlisle Street. Nokwe joined the Municipal Brass Band and attended tap dancing lessons. He also belonged to a male vocal group called the “Rockets’, whilst also working for the Salvation Army Social Farm.
Alfred Nokwe grew up in Cato Manor and worked as a clerk in Native Affairs Administration. During the demolition of Cato Manor he was relocated to kwaMashu. His first professional acting production was in 1960, in a cameo role in Alan Paton’s Mkhumbane directed by Malcolm Woolfson, a play that coincided with the riots in Durban.
Alfred lived in Umkhumbane and in February 2001, the Izwi Cato Manor Community Newspaper featured an article written by him on his experiences in Umkhumbane:
“That is what it (Umkhumbane) was called, named after the river that went through from Bellair meandering past Cabazini then Draaihoek, bypassing Ezimbuzini and forking out to Mgenge and Nettleton Road bordering Chesterville. The Municipality had built an aquaduct at the bottom of Nettleton Road and this was a favourite ‘skiing resort’ for the children of Umkhumbane. You see, the little channel was all slimy and slippery because of the lichens and mosses. That is where you would see naked little black bums sliding up and down the ntshununu. Umkhumbane was sublet to Asiatics at the turn of the century by Whites who had been given the land by George Cato. The Asiatics cultivated and ploughed the land supplying the so called English Market with fresh vegetables. They never looked back!”
Nokwe featured in many TV dramas as an actor and later as a director/producer and received several awards:
- Durban Theatre Awards for 2002 to 2003
- Blue Fountain Award for Outstanding Contribution to the South African Film Industry
- A Citation for “1949” a play by Ronnie Govender for recognition as a former citizen of Umkhumbane
- F.N.B. Vita Award for best Performance by an actor in a supporting role as “Willie” in Master Harold and The Boys
- Life Time Achievement Fool’s Awards in 2004
- S’swhi Award of Excellence in KwaMashu
- An eThekwini Living Legends Award from the eThekwini Municipality
- Recognition for preserving “Imbudledle” the late Dalton Khanyile’s legendary educational instrument
He worked as a local historian and assisted destitute children in kwaMashu. Nokwe died in 2008.