A great nation is not formed in a day nor by one person alone. Our South African nation was formed by many great leaders and on the ideal that we can be better. Today, we can look back and be proud of the people that led us through the fights and struggles to get us to where we are.
We know there are many great leaders, but today we’ll only be looking at two of them.
Oliver R. Tambo
“We seek to create a united democratic and non-racial society.”
Fondly known as OR, he served as the President of the ANC sporadically between 1967 and 1991. In 1943, together with Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, Tambo started the ANC Youth League; they also advocated that the tactics of the anti-apartheid movement needed to change, as they were insufficient. He was also involved in the establishment of the UCD, a non-radical anti-apartheid organisation.
After the government had banned him, the ANC sent him to Muswell Hill, north London. He only returned to South Africa in 1990 after having spent over 30 years in exile. During his time in exile, Tambo conducted several campaigns abroad, including a speech to the UN canvassing to both release political prisoners and to put an end to Apartheid in South Africa.
Tambo is also one of the founding fathers of Thebe alongside Beyers Naude, Nelson Mandela and Enos Mabuza.
“In death, you once more challenge people from every strata, religion, and position to think about how their own actions do and can change the world for better or worse.”
Better known as Uncle Kathy, Ahmed Kathrada was not only a struggle fighter but also a personal advisor and friend of President Nelson Mandela. He was involved in politics from a very young age; at 12, he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa and at 17, he left school to work full-time at the Transvaal Passive Resistance Council.
Throughout his life, he spent many periods in jail for his political stance and civil disobedience. The first of this series was a month in a Durban prison due to the Passive Resistance Campaign of the South African Indian Congress. In 1952, he was part of the Campaign of Defiance against Unjust Laws led by the ANC and the SAIC. After their attempt had failed, they launched the Defiance Campaign.
It was in July 1963 that he was arrested, for the 18th and final time, when the police stormed on the Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, the ANC’s underground headquarters. After the Rivonia Trial, Kathrada and seven other accused were sentenced to a lifetime in prison with hard labour. He spent 18 years in Robbin Island and 8 years and 3 months in Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison in Cape Town.
He was 60 years-old when he was finally released.
While in prison, his friendship and companionship with Mandela, Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni grew, and he later became the Head of Public Relations of the ANC and in 1994, became a member of parliament. He was also a councillor to Mandela both in a private and political manner.
These leaders are constant reminders that with determination, nothing can stand in your way. Together we can take our amazing nation to even greater heights.
Image source: Kathrada Foundation