OR Tambo now official

2006-10-27 09:12

Johannesburg - Johannesburg International Airport was officially renamed OR Tambo International Airport on Friday morning.

As the banner with the old name was pulled off the front of the airport building, musician Jonas Gwangwa serenaded the appearance of the newly painted new name.

The new name is flanked by a picture of a smiling Tambo wearing African National Congress colours and the Airports Company SA (Acsa) logo.

Acsa runs the airport.

The unveiling was cheered by President Thabo Mbeki, former president Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel, Tambo's widow, Adelaide, their son Dali, other family members and many construction workers.

The airport is named after the late ANC president.

OR Tambo is the third name in the airport's history. It was first known as Jan Smuts Airport.

Tambo led the ANC in exile for 30 years and died in April 1993.

Ekurhuleni metro mayor Duma Nkosi described Tambo as the man "who was able to galvanise the international community to declare apartheid a crime against humanity and whose contribution straddled decades at all phases of the struggle for justice and freedom".

The airport is in the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality area.

Many at Friday's event wore T-shirts honouring Tambo, displaying a quote from him: "It is our responsibility to break down barriers or division and create a country where there will be neither white nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity."

Road signs to the airport have already been changed to reflect the new name.