Daddy was there for us, says Tselane Tambo

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
OR Tambo.

Despite his demanding political programme, late African National Congress (ANC) leader Oliver Tambo made time for his family and when he was home, he made it count.  

Tselane Tambo, the daughter of the longest serving President of South Africa’s liberation party, the ANC, recently shared her memories of her father with SAnews.  

As the country celebrates the centenary of Tambo and pays tribute to a political figure, Tselane remembers a man who once came to her rescue when, as a 12-year-old, she accidentally broke one of her mother’s plates.

“It broke! Bury  it in the garden before your mother finds out!” Tselane was instructed by her father.

“I remember I buried it in the garden. Mom didn’t notice or ask about the missing plate. A few years later we were doing gardening and we dug up pieces of that plate,” Tselane remembers with a giggle

This is one of the many fond memories she has of her revered father whom many of his comrades simply referred to as OR.

Tselane joined many other South Africans who came out last Friday to honour her father for his contribution to the liberation of South Africa in a year he would have turned 100 years old. Tambo was born in the village of Nkantolo, Eastern Cape on 27 October 1917. He spent many years in exile following the banning of liberation movements, including the ANC.

Sadly, Tambo never lived enough to witness South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. His  legacy lives on and the centenary celebrations at his home village that attracted thousands of people, prove that he still yields immense respect among South Africans even as he lay in his grave.

Although Tambo’s demanding political life meant that he would often be away from his family, his daughter insists, when their father was around, he made the moments special.

“A lot of the time he wasn’t there but when he was there, he was significantly there.  My father was so concerned with so many things; it was special when he had time for me,” says Tselane Tambo.

The Tambo family has nothing but praise for the manner South Africans have remembered OR throughout the year. Government had devoted 2017 to the celebration of Tambo’s life and the work of the man after the continent’s biggest and busiest airport is named. Recently, a statue in Tambo’s honour was unveiled at the OR Tambo International in Johannesburg.

Throughout the year, scores of people have paid tribute to Tambo, describing his contribution to South Africa’s freedom as unsurpassed.

The Reserve Bank and the South African Mint have launched a series of commemorative coins honouring Tambo.

Three of the four coins are collectible while the fourth is a circulation R5 coin as part of the centenary celebrations.

The process to develop the commemorative coins began in 2015 at the instruction of Cabinet to the South African Mint to develop coins along the theme of freedom, democracy and culture.

Head of Product Development at SA Mint Richard Stone said the theme was then presented to a panel from different backgrounds, including art historians and artists.

“We settled on the theme of Oliver Tambo because if not on his 100th birthday, then when? If not Oliver Tambo then who? 2017 was the perfect year for commemorating this centenary of Oliver Tambo,” explained Stone.

The collective coins all bear Tambo’s face at various stages in his life as well as the much sought after R500 gold coin depicting an older Tambo in his well-recognized glasses.

Artist Sindiso Nyoni says he jumped at the opportunity to design the new coins. Nyoni has previously worked with SA Mint in creating centenary medals for the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2015. The artist is part of SA Mint’s design advisory panel.

The young artist, whose background is in graphic design, was initially nervous about translating his work, which is usually in poster format onto a coin.

“I was not too sure of how they would translate onto coins. However, the process went so quickly and everybody loved them,” says Nyoni. The coins went into circulation on 27 October, the birthday of OR Tambo. –










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