Celebrating a vi­sion­ary leader

Public Sector Manager - - Contents - Source: www.tam­bo­foun­da­tion.org.za

This year South Africa cel­e­brates the cen­te­nary of one of the coun­try’s great­est lead­ers, OR Tambo

Across the coun­try, peo­ple will talk about, re­mem­ber and mar­vel at the life of one of South Africa's great­est lead­ers this month. October is a spe­cial month in South Africa as it pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity for South Africans to re­flect on the life and times of the late Oliver Regi­nald (OR) Tambo, a leader who still com­mands re­spect the world over.

The year 2017 marks the cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tion of Tambo's birth. He played an im­por­tant role in lib­er­at­ing South Africa and was one of the found­ing fa­thers of our con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy.

Govern­ment de­clared 2017 “The year of OR Tambo: Celebrating our lib­er­a­tion her­itage”. A num­ber of events will take place this month to com­mem­o­rate the legacy and cen­te­nary of Tambo.

He served as pres­i­dent of the African Na­tional Congress (ANC) from 1969 to 1991, mak­ing him the long­est-serv­ing pres­i­dent of the party. He also en­joyed over 50 years of po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism in the ANC.

A leader is born

Tambo was born on 27 October 1917, as Kaizana Tambo, in Nkan­tolo vil­lage in the East­ern Cape. His ru­ral up­bring­ing groomed him to be­come a hard worker with strong moral stan­dards and val­ues.

Ac­cord­ing to the Oliver and Ade­laide Tambo Foun­da­tion, he changed the name Kaizana to Oliver af­ter a teacher asked him on his first day of school to come to school with a new English name.

“His par­ents chose Oliver.This and a host of en­coun­ters with some of his first teach­ers' strict nature made him dread school. A chance meet­ing with an elo­quent young man, who was a mem­ber of the de­bat­ing so­ci­ety in a dif­fer­ent school, changed his at­ti­tude to­wards ed­u­ca­tion and ig­nited a love for dis­cus­sion and de­bate,” says the Foun­da­tion.

Af­ter school,Tambo went to univer­sity. He grad­u­ated with a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Maths and Sci­ence from Fort Hare Univer­sity. His life as an ac­tivist started at the univer­sity.

In 1942, while study­ing to­wards his post­grad­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tion in ed­u­ca­tion, he was ex­pelled from the univer­sity for par­tic­i­pat­ing in a student strike.When his former teacher heard of his ex­pul­sion he was of­fered a job as a Maths and Sci­ence teacher at St. Peter's Col­lege.

Po­lit­i­cal life

Dur­ing his time as a teacher in Jo­han­nes­burg, Tambo was an ac­tive mem­ber of the ANC. He formed the Youth League and be­came its first na­tional sec­re­tary in 1944.

Four years later, he be­came pres­i­dent of the Transvaal ANCYL and na­tional vice-pres­i­dent of the or­gan­i­sa­tion in 1949. He was also elected as a mem­ber of the Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee of the ANC.

In 1951,Tambo made his­tory when he formed the first black law part­ner­ship with his great friend, Madiba.

Tambo led the ANC through chal­leng­ing times. He was the long­est-serv­ing leader and took the cause to many coun­tries.

Dur­ing his time abroad he was in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing ANC mis­sions in at least 27 coun­tries by 1990.“He helped lobby sup­port for the ANC and raised the in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion of the ANC to one of great pres­tige,” says the Foun­da­tion.

Af­ter spend­ing 30 years in ex­ile,Tambo and his fam­ily re­turned home. Upon his re­turn he spoke at the first ANC meet­ing in South Africa since it's un­ban­ning. He used the oc­ca­sion to pass on the lead­er­ship ba­ton to Man­dela, who was elected as the Na­tional Chair­per­son of the ANC.

On 24 April 1993 Tambo died af­ter a stroke.

Writer: Ongezwa Mo­gotsi Images cour­tesy of © Tambo Fam­ily Al­bum / Oliver and Ade­laide Tambo Foun­da­tion

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