TONY LED A FULL LIFE

MY BROTHER Tony Ngwenya's death on Tuesday after many years of living with diabetes, epilepsy and hypertension - as well as albinism - might be shocking to some.

MY BROTHER Tony Ngwenya's death on Tuesday after many years of living with diabetes, epilepsy and hypertension - as well as albinism - might be shocking to some.

For me the timing is uncanny, taking place in Albinism Month for which he led a successful lobby.

Today albinism is recognised as a manageable condition and there is a mind-set change across South Africa in terms of understanding and accepting people with albinism.

Tony was watching Isidingo with our sister, Joyce when - after several months of having been in and out of hospital and looking better - he complained of a cramp on his way to the toilet. Then he just crumbled and left us.

Tony and I were close. He would have celebrated his 57th birthday on November 22. I turned 59 on May 14. We were as close as twins. Others thought were were duping them, suspecting that we were lovers. But our spouses understood us.

My husband Benedict and Tony's late wife, Thandi, knew us best and they were supportive.

I thank God for Tony's life, and death, because the Doubting Thomas' will now have a chance to come to his funeral service today at The Church of Resurrection Anglican Church in Meadowlands, Soweto, to see for themselves that people with albinism - not albinos - die, and do not simply disappear.

Those who will be able to attend the funeral at the West Park Cemetery near Melville, Johannesburg, will also see that they are human too.

Tony and I had other siblings with albinism - our late brothers Mandlenkosi and Themba as well as our sister Sylvia.

Tony was a schoolteacher and applied the same learning and teaching principles to coach and mentor young people with albinism. It is through his nurturing spirit that we have assertive, confident and dynamic Assa (Albinism Society of South Africa) representatives throughout South Africa.

We have decided not to hold a memorial service for Tony. The albinism advocacy, awareness and community education campaign takes prominence.

That is the gospel he preached. He would have liked the National Schools Essay Competition on Albinism to go on though we do not have sponsorship. The youth will help us spread the word. - lNomasonto Mazibuko was speaking to Victor Mecoamere

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