This year, 2017, South Africa is celebrating 23 years of freedom and will also be celebrating the centenary of diplomat Oliver Reginald Tambo through an overarching theme “O.R. Tambo: Together deepening democracy and building safer and crime-free communities”.
Both celebratory events are organised in South Africa and abroad.
In order to honour the memory of Oliver Tambo and celebrate the liberation day, South African Embassy in Bucharest will organise a reception on 27 June 2017. Mr. Bethwell Tiba, the Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ State Secretary and Mr. Neil Barber, ROSABA [Romanian-South African Business Association] chairman, will deliver messages at the event.
Oliver Reginald Tambo (1917-1993) played an integral role in the liberation of South Africa. He dedicated his life to the pursuit of equality and justice for all South Africans and was one of the founding fathers of South Africa’s constitutional democracy. Oliver Tambo is viewed by many as South Africa’s top diplomat. Tambo served primarily in exile. Over 30 years, he traversed the globe in a successful attempt to secure international solidarity for the anti-apartheid movement.
It was only on 27 April 1994 that the heroic struggles for freedom waged through mass action involving women, youth, trade unions and religious organisations ended with the first ever democratic elections in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, the icon of struggles, voted for the first time when he was 76 years old instead of the internationally accepted 18 years. He emerged as the first black democratically elected President for a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.
O.R. Tambo’s legacy and values
One of the leaders of South Africa once described Oliver Tambo as follows: “He was an incisive thinker. He had a remarkable ability to understand the environment and analyse the balance of forces, and to formulate an appropriate course of action. He possessed an intellectual honesty. He would tell no lies and he would claim no easy victories”.
Tambo was a builder. He built alliances. He forged partnerships. For three decades he travelled the globe meeting heads of state, union leaders, activists, business people, cultural workers, celebrities, community leaders, revolutionaries. He ignited in all of them a shared determination to fight for the rights and freedoms of all people. He rallied them behind a shared vision of a different society and a different world.
Speaking of Oliver Tambo’s personality, Nelson Mandela said: “It is thanks also to these qualities of leadership, his statesmanship and his wisdom that Tambo became universally recognised as the most outstanding spokesman of the struggling people of our country, highly respected by friend and opponent alike. In the councils of the OAU [Organisation of African Unity], the Frontline States, the UNO [United Nations Organisation], the ILO [International Labour Organisation], the Non-Aligned Movement and other international bodies where we sought international solidarity, his thoughts and opinions were highly valued and sought after. This external pressure played a vital role in deepening the crisis of apartheid and forcing the regime to move towards dialogue”.
O.R. Tambo embodied the unwavering desire of the South African people to be free and of the determined struggle to end oppression, exploitation and discrimination in all its manifestations, as he put it thus in one of his addresses: “It is our responsibility to break down the barriers of division and create a country where there will be neither Whites nor Blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity”.
In celebrating the life of O.R. Tambo in Romania as we do today and throughout the year, the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa takes this opportunity to, on behalf of the South African Nation, Government, and people of South Africa, humbly express sincere words of appreciation to all the countries, their governments and their citizens for extending a hand of assistance to South Africans for them to also join the community of nations in enjoying democracy, rule of law, peace and security. This is a debt that the country will never be able to fully pay back and which it will never stop appreciating. South Africa has a full understanding that some countries’ citizens sacrificed their meagre incomes to contribute to South Africa’s struggle. Working together with our partners in the international community, South Africa learned that it could achieve a South Africa that O.R. Tambo fought tirelessly to found. His vision bore fruit on 27 April 1994.