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Oliver Tambo (OR “Reginald” Tambo) was a South African politician. He was a major force as an anti-apartheid activist and he was the President of the African National Congress.

About Oliver Tambo

Oliver Tambo who was popularly known as ‘O R’ was born on the 27th of October 1917; in the Eastern Cape Province. During his early days while in the University of Fort Hare, he was expelled from school for participating in a student strike, alongside his friends (Nelson Mandela and others).

Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo founded an all black African law firm (Mandela and Tambo) in 1952.  Tambo died on the 24th of April 1993; due to complications from stroke.

Oliver Tambo’s Political Career

1943 was the year Tambo, Nelson Mandela and other key members came together to form the ANCYL (African National Congress Youth League). Making Tambo the league’s first National Secretary and a member of the National Executive five years later.

Tambo grew from the ANCYL stronger into the ANC and in 1955; he became Secretary General of the ANC. In 1958 he became the Deputy President of the Congress; before his ban in 1959.

Shortly after his ban, Tambo relocated to London with his family; where they stayed for over thirty years, mobilizing opposition to apartheid. In 1967, after the death of the President of the ANC, Tambo became the Acting President.

In 1990, Tambo returned to South Africa; this was five years after he was re-elected President of the ANC.

Oliver Tambo’s Education

  • Holy Cross Mission School
  • St. Peters, Johannesburg
  • University of Fort Hare

Oliver Tambo Airport

In 2005, the ANC politicians put together a proposal and revealed their plans of renaming the Johannesburg International Airport after him (O.R Tambo International Airport). In late 2006, the proposal was approved and the name change took effect.

Oliver Tambo Quotes

  • “We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity”.
  • “We believe that the world too can destroy apartheid, firstly by striking at the economy of South Africa”.
  • “The fight for freedom must go on until it is won; until our country is free and happy and peaceful as part of the community of man, we cannot rest”.
  • “We seek to create a united Democratic and non-racial society”.
  • “It may be that apartheid brings such stupendous economic advantages to countries that they would sooner have apartheid than permit its destruction”.
  • “We are not fighting against people; we are fighting against a system”.
  • “The apartheid enemy tries to separate us into ancient ‘tribal’ entities and pretends to be concerned about the preservation of our cultural heritage”.

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