Tambo legacy trampled on by ANC

2017-11-23 06:01
HOUSE of TrUTHThembile Ndabeni

HOUSE of TrUTHThembile Ndabeni

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October 27 marked 100 years to the day Oliver Reginald Tambo was born.

Tambo was the longest serving ANC president ever, all of 25 years. His political activism began in 1933 after he and friends formed the Bizana Students Association in which he was elected secretary.

In 1942 while doing a Diploma in Higher Education at Fort Hare University, he was elected the chairman of the Students’ Committee of the Beda Hall residence. He was also expelled for leading students in a protests against arbitrary restrictions on the use of a campus tennis court.

When he was about to be ordained as a priest he was charged in the 1956 Treason Trial together with 156 of his comrades. Shortly after he left the country, the ANC was banned. Hailing from humble beginnings, he was trained as a teacher and taught mathematics. He and Nelson Mandela were the first generation of the ANC Youth League. Together with the likes of Sisulu, Peter Mda and Lembede they founded the ANC Youth League and radicalized the ANC, forcing it to adopt the militant 1949 Programme of Action.

Together with the Mandelas and Sisulus he was in the forefront of the Defiance Campaign and the Freedom Charter. That led to his arrest and eventual implication in the Treason Trial. Before the banning of political organizations in 1960, the ANC sent him to open offices abroad. He set up military camps in Tanzania and Zambia in 1965.

From Deputy-President he later became acting-President and later ANC President after the prominent Chief Albert Luthuli passed on.

In 1977 he addressed the UN Security Council becoming the first head of a liberation movement to do so.

In the 1980s, he made a call to the Black townships through Radio Freedom and they acceded to the call “to make South Africa ungovernable, make Apartheid unworkable”.

Under his leadership, the ANC met various respected people inside and outside the country to discuss a peaceful settlement for the country.

He suffered a stroke in 1989, on the eve of the negotiations. As a result, he handed over the baton to Nelson Mandela and bestowed him “father of the nation” and president of the ANC. He was installed as Chancellor of the University Fort Hare in 1991.

Severely handicapped by his deteriorating health, Tambo passed away from a stroke in Johannesburg on 24 April 1993.

It can be reiterated that Tambo belonged to a group of youth that participated in the shaping of Anton Lembede to emerge “as the most striking personality and daring thinker” (Gail M. Gerhart, 1978:51).

In exile he was like a choir-master, leading people in different parts of the country, continent and the world. Inside the country, he inspired activists. He consolidated the ANC’s first pillar of struggle, mass mobilization. That also consolidated the second pillar, the underground structures.

The third pillar, the armed struggle, was sparked from the major challenge from inside the country, the state brutality. On the international front, Tambo was regarded as a terrorist; as a result some leaders refused to meet him, but he managed to create an ANC government in exile and received state leader status. He played a significant role in the nurturing of Josia Jele, Johnstone Makatini, Thabo Mbeki, Pallo Jordan, Mac Maharaj, Max Sisulu, Dulcie September, Ronnie Kasrils, Chris Hani, Essop Pahad and Ngoako Ramathlodi. Despite many challenges, the last pillar -- international solidarity - ultimately succeeded and led to our “freedom”. It began with recognition of the ANC not only as a liberation movement but as “government in exile”, and later “government in waiting”. It’s unfortunate that his centenary is celebrated in the state the ANC is in, a movement he held together for 24 years!


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