We would follow OR Tambo anywhere – Denis Goldberg

2016-10-27 07:44
Denis Goldberg (Lerato Sejake, News24).

Denis Goldberg (Lerato Sejake, News24).

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Johannesburg – Oliver Reginald Tambo worked himself to death for South Africa.

These were the words of Rivonia trialist and ANC stalwart Denis Goldberg.

Goldberg was reflecting on the life and times of the man who was fondly known as OR, the ANC's long-serving president who died in April 1993. Tambo would have turned 99 on Thursday and several events, including a wreath-laying ceremony led by President Jacob Zuma and a lecture in the fallen hero's honour by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, will be held.

"OR travelled the world and worked himself to death, one stroke after another until he insisted on being at Chris Hani's funeral after he was assassinated. But it was just too much for him," said Goldberg with tears gathering in his eyes.

Goldberg, along with nine others, faced charges of treason in 1963 after a raid on Liliesleaf Farm. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in 1985.

He shared memories he had of Tambo following that period.

"I came out of prison and saw OR in action in Lusaka, he'd come out of his office and there were ANC members in the compound and they would snap to attention, comrades, commanders… it embarrassed him. He looked embarrassed, would sort of slouch over to somebody and say 'oh I knew an uncle, didn't he live in such and such village'. Just very personal stuff," he said.

The Rivonia trialist lauded Tambo for being a principled leader who didn't put himself above the needs of those he led.

"He could be very hard as well. Demanded work, demanded respect for comrades from each other and when he gave tasks he wanted them carried out," Goldberg recalled.

He was a leader of the most powerful movement they knew and he treated people with respect, Goldberg remembered.

He told News24 of a visit Albertina Sisulu made to the UK accompanied by Jessie Duarte among others. They paid Tambo a visit after meeting with the British government.

"He was having a meeting with MaSisulu and she is sitting on a sofa with people around her and he is sitting on a low stool, at her knee talking to her."

Goldberg, with a tear rolling down his cheek, said they would follow Tambo anywhere "out of love, out of his humanity, out of his clarity of thinking and selfless sacrifice for the freedom of all of us".

Read more on:    anc  |  oliver tambo  |  denis goldberg

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