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President Jacob Zuma officiates at national OR Tambo Centenary Celebrations in Mbizana

Oct 28, 2017
President Jacob Zuma officiates at national OR Tambo Centenary Celebrations in Mbizana

President Jacob Zuma officiated the OR Tambo Centenary national celebrations on Friday in honour the legacy and life of the liberation struggle icon, African humanist and the longest serving President of the governing party, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo, in his hometown of Mbizana, in the Eastern Cape. 
 
The year 2017 was declared a ‘Year of OR Tambo’ by government to mark the centenary birthday of Mr Tambo and to remember his principled leadership and ideals which inspired many liberation struggle and anti-colonialism activists not only in South Africa but across the continent and the world. The national centenary celebrations will be held under the theme "Life and Legacy of Mr OR Tambo".

Mr Tambo was born in the Nkantolo village in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape on 27 October 1917 and he sadly passed away on 24 April 1993, aged 75, after he suffered a stroke. 
 
President Zuma has defined the centenary celebrations as one of the most significant occasions for the country and the African continent and encouraged South Africans to draw lessons from Mr Tambo’s life, leadership and to understand the qualities that made him one of the most internationally respected leaders and founding of father of the democratic South Africa. 
 
“On this occasion we should remember and honour a life of a patriot, a solid and principled leader that sacrificed everything and endangered the lives of his family to liberate South Africa and African people from colonialism and imperialism. As we celebrate the life of this liberation struggle giant, we should also draw lessons from OR Tambo’s exemplary leadership and advance his ideals and his belief in a peaceful, equal, non-racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa,” said President Zuma. 
 
“This occasion should further remind all South Africans of where we come from as a country and also encourage all of us to preserve and advance the progressive ideals of OR Tambo which were centered around the struggle for justice and equal social and economic rights of all our people.” 
 
“The ideals of this visionary and freedom fighter should inspire all of us as we advance our struggle for radical socio-economic transformation that will reverse the legacy of apartheid and liberate our people from economic hardships and address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality, a struggle that OR Tambo lived and fought for,” said President Zuma.  
 
President Zuma has characterized Mr Tambo as a visionary and a true African humanist who was loved by many in the continent and who shaped the foreign policy of the democratic South Africa as well as laid a foundation as the foremost diplomat and highly respected leader during difficult time in the country’s history.   
 
“Mr Tambo is respected throughout the world as a true internationalist and an embodiment of the highest values. He is recognised as an eminent leader who succeeded in mobilizing his people and the international community to the national cause of South Africa and to the international cause of fighting racism, xenophobia and the consolidation of an international human rights movement,” he said.
 
“Through his solution-oriented leadership, which sought to move forward on the basis of building consensus, he also led key processes from the Harare Declaration to the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” the President added. 
 
Government has hosted a number of activities and build-up events throughout the year to celebrate Mr Tambo’s life and legacy. Early this month, President Zuma officially launched the Oliver Tambo National Heritage Site in Lusaka, Republic of Zambia during his State Visit to the country. 
 
Whilst exiled from South Africa during the apartheid era, Mr Tambo lived in Zambia from 1965 to 1991, where he was accommodated in various locations including Chelstone Green in Lusaka in a house which was allocated to him by Zambia’s first democratic President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda. The house has been renovated by the South African government and declared as a National Heritage Site by the Zambian government. 
 
Last week President Zuma has also unveiled a life-size statue and a bust of Mr Tambo at OR Tambo International Airport which was named after him, in honour of his immense contribution in the liberation struggle.