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Christmas Fihla Tinto (1925 - )

The Order of Luthuli in

Christmas Fihla Tinto (1925 - ) Awarded for:
Excellent contribution to the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist, just and democratic South Africa.
Profile of Christmas Fihla Tinto

Christmas Fihla Tinto was born on Christmas day in 1925 in the Mqanduli district of the former Transkei. At an early age, he found himself swept into a current of protest and revolt. In 1942, after taking a leading role in a protest against poor food at St John's College in Umtata, he was expelled and his angry father sent him to work on the mines in Boksburg. Once again he became embroiled in protest actions. He was taken to Germiston station in handcuffs, and was deported to the Transkei. He subsequently left to work in Cape Town, joining the Langa branch of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1951. He was elected its chief volunteer in 1954.

In 1960, Tinto took part in the march of 30 000 people from Langa to Caledon Square police station, Cape Town, virtually on the doorstep of the white Parliament, which immediately led to the first State of Emergency being declared, under the Verwoerd regime. In 1961, he was delegated to attend the All-Africa Conference in Maritzburg. During the 1976 youth uprising, Tinto was detained in Polsmoor Prison and on Robben Island until his release in 1978.

In 1983, at the launch of the United Democratic Front (UDF), Tinto became Vice-President for the Western Cape region. He played a key role in various UDF campaigns and was subsequently re-elected. Following the imposition of a State of Emergency, Tinto was once again detained and finally released in 1985. He was one of the first Western Cape members of our new democracy's Upper House of the time, the Senate, from 1994 to 1996.