Youth have much to learn from life of OR Tambo, says President

Sunday, October 27, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has challenged young people to draw inspiration from the life of the young Oliver Tambo, and use to the fullest all the educational opportunities provided to them by the democratic government.

“Academic excellence should be the goal driving the activities of every young person of school-going age, just as the goal driving government is to ensure all young people have equal access to quality education and the opportunity to reach their full potential,” President Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

He encouraged the matric class of 2019, who are currently writing their final exams, to apply themselves with even greater effort in the weeks remaining of this school year.

“Having been a teacher himself, OR Tambo would have wanted us to acknowledge and appreciate all the hard working teachers who spare neither effort nor strength in ensuring that our matriculants are prepared for their exams. To these teachers, we say thank you, well done and please continue your great service to our country,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President was speaking at the commemoration of Oliver and Adelaide Tambo held in Tamboville in the City of Ekurhuleni.

Had he lived, the former ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo would have been 102 years old his month.

Paying tribute to OR Tambo, President Ramaphosa said as a devout Christian, strong beliefs helped to spare him from many misdemeanours usually associated with young men, then and now.

“There is an important lesson to draw here, that young people must seek a set of beliefs and perspectives on morality to successfully deal with, among other things, the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse, risky sexual behaviour and violence.

“Faith based communities have an important role to play as part of our broader moral regeneration efforts. The story of OR Tambo is like a book full of timeless life lessons to all who wish to become better people in service of humanity.

“From an early age, OR Tambo never sought high office. However, his lack of appetite for leadership positions should not be confused with the lack of confidence to lead. Tambo persuaded his peers with ease and great sophistication,” the President said.

As a very patient listener and good debater, he always provided leadership in critical moments within and through a collective, the President said.

OR Tambo furthered his studies at the University of Fort Hare, which President Ramaphosa said “carried in its hands the hopes, dreams and aspirations of young black men and women” in times of despair.

“With a sharpened sense of justice from his lived experience, he was immersed in student struggles, seeking always to defend and advance the interests of students. Despite his activism and involvement in student politics, OR Tambo continued to excel academically. This is a great lesson for our present day student leaders,” said the President.

While appreciating the role played by student leaders in defending and advancing student interests and in creating a conscious citizenry, the President said Tambo would have expected them to see it as their revolutionary duty to excel academically, graduate on time and create space for others.

He commended all those involved in student politics who are leading by example and obtaining their qualifications.

The annual OR Tambo commemoration is aimed at preserving the legacy of the two liberation leaders – OR Tambo and his wife and leader Mama Adelaide – and promote their values and engender a culture of selflessness.

This year’s event took place under the theme “Celebrating the 90th birthday of Mama Adelaide Tambo”. –