Zwelidumile Geelboi Mgxaji Mslaba “Dumile” Feni was born in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa in 1942. By the early 1950s, Dumile was an apprentice at the Block and Leo Wald Sculpture, Pottery and Plastics Foundry in Jeppe.
Dumile found his subject matter in the life and events he observed around him. He exhibited successfully for a number of years in Johannesburg and was selected as one of the artists to represent South Africa at the 1967 São Paulo Biennale. As a black artist, he received much criticism from Durban-area art contemporaries for representing the apartheid regime at an international exhibition. Faced with the possibility of deportation under the Pass Laws, Dumile voluntarily exiled himself to London, where he exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery and Camden Art Centre. In 1979 he moved to the United States, first to Los Angeles and then New York, where lived until his sudden death in 1991, three years before his vision of a democratic South Africa was realized.