All set for OR Tambo centenary celebrations

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

It’s all systems go for OR Tambo centenary national celebrations in his hometown of Mbizana in the Eastern Cape province.

President Jacob Zuma will on Friday officiate the celebrations to honour the legacy and life of the liberation struggle icon, African humanist and the longest serving President of the governing party, Oliver Reginald Tambo.

The year 2017 was declared the ‘Year of OR Tambo’ by government to mark the centenary birthday of Tambo and to remember his principled leadership and ideals, which inspired many liberation struggle and anti-colonialism activists not only in South Africa but across the continent and the world.

The national centenary celebrations will be held under the theme, ‘Life and Legacy of Mr OR Tambo’.

Tambo, who was born in Nkantolo village in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape on 27 October 1917, passed away on 24 April 1993, aged 75, after he suffered a stroke.

President Zuma has defined the centenary celebrations as one of the most significant occasions for the country and the African continent. He has encouraged South Africans to draw lessons from Tambo’s life and leadership, and to understand the qualities that made him one of the most internationally respected leaders and founding father of democratic South Africa.

“On this occasion, we should remember and honour the life of a patriot, a solid and principled leader who sacrificed everything and endangered the lives of his family to liberate South Africa and African people from colonialism and imperialism.

“As we celebrate the life of this liberation struggle giant, we should also draw lessons from OR Tambo’s exemplary leadership and advance his ideals and his belief in a peaceful, equal, non-racial and non-sexist democratic South Africa.

“This occasion should further remind all South Africans of where we come from as a country and also encourage all of us to preserve and advance the progressive ideals of OR Tambo, which were centred on the struggle for justice and equal social and economic rights of all our people.

“The ideals of this visionary and freedom fighter should inspire all of us as we advance our struggle for radical socio-economic transformation that will reverse the legacy of apartheid and liberate our people from economic hardships and address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality, a struggle that OR Tambo lived and fought for,” he said. 

A man of vision

President Zuma has characterised Tambo as a visionary and a true African humanist, who was loved by many on the continent and who shaped the foreign policy of the democratic South Africa, as well as laid a foundation as the foremost diplomat and highly respected leader during a difficult time in the country’s history.  

Tambo is respected throughout the world as a true internationalist and an embodiment of the highest values.

President Zuma said Tambo is recognised as an eminent leader, who succeeded in mobilising his people and the international community for the national cause of South Africa and the international cause of fighting racism, xenophobia and the consolidation of an international human rights movement.

“Through his solution-oriented leadership, which sought to move forward on the basis of building consensus, he also led key processes from the Harare Declaration, to the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” President Zuma said.

Government has hosted a number of activities and build-up events throughout the year to celebrate Tambo’s life and legacy. Earlier this month, President Zuma officially launched the Oliver Tambo National Heritage Site in Lusaka, Zambia, during his State visit to the country.

While exiled from South Africa during the apartheid era, Tambo lived in Zambia from 1965 to 1991, where he was accommodated at various locations, including Chelstone Green in Lusaka in a house that was allocated to him by Zambia’s first democratic President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

The house has been renovated by the South African government and declared as a national heritage site by the Zambian government.

Last week, President Zuma unveiled a life-size statue and a bust of Tambo at OR Tambo International Airport, which was named after him in honour of his immense contribution in the liberation struggle. –

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