Pay tribute to Ting Ting Masango

#146. Remember a different time. A small item in the news section appeared this morning announcing the death of Umkhonto we Sizwe veteran Ting Ting Masango from diabetes. This event deserves more space.

A reader had left a comment on the story about him being a “nobody” — a remarkable and seemingly proud display of ignorance that  is indicative of a greater willful ignorance about this country’s history.

Ting Ting Masango was one of the Delmas Four, and was recently “immortalised” in Peter Harris’s Alan Paton Award-winning book, In a Different Time. I met him him close to 20 years ago when he was on hunger strike along with fellow soldiers Neo Potsane and Jabu Masina. They were facing the death penalty then and had been taken to Johannesburg General Hospital after embarking on a hunger strike.

My memories of Ting Ting Masango are of a gentle man, large and imposing but soft-spoken and with a slight squint.

It was a time of true heroism, of people fighting for a cause so much bigger than themselves — something increasingly rare in the society and the world that we live in. They were fighting a system that was inhumane and cruel, and that exacted an enormous toll on us — and in many ways we are still paying for it.

People like Ting Ting deserve to be remembered and to be honoured.