Mapeto Baldwin Langa, widely known as both Fieldmore and as Phopho, was buried in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, 25 August. Langa was a lifelong communist and internationalist and his coffin was wrapped in a specially made copy of the red flag of the 143rd Battalion that defended the Paris Commune in 1871, with the added symbol of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).
He joined uMkhonto weSizwe at the age of 17. His journey through the rigours of exile took him from Lusaka, to Maputo, Tunis, Berlin and Moscow. After his return from exile in 1994 he became a key intellectual and activist in Numsa.
Langa was a strong critic of the direction taken by the ANC after ascending to power. He was among the first communists to oppose the alliance formed between the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
After Numsa was expelled from Cosatu in 2013 Langa, working with others, began to rebuild the union’s education and political programmes. He is remembered as a particularly gifted and committed teacher. An internationalist and communist to the end he spent his last years dedicated to teaching activists from across the continent.
More than forty people from outside of South Africa travelled to the country for the funeral, including delegations from the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) in Brazil, the Socialist Party of Zambia and the labour movement in Morocco.