Justice Albie Sachs remembers Oliver Tambo
As a young person, I have through the years come to appreciate and understand what South Africa had to go through to get to where we are today. This year we celebrate 23 years of democracy, a hard-won democracy at that. The older I grow and the more I am confronted with issues that threaten this democracy I often ask myself what our forefather would say, how history would judge us, on whether or not we are protecting this democracy.
When I was younger I remember back in the 80’s during protests on the streets of Zone 3 Meadowlands in Soweto, I used to hear older people sing this struggle song… “Oliver Tambo thethat no Botha a Khulu’uMandela …”
I never really understood it all, though, I knew that Nelson Mandela was in prison and had been there for over 20 years then. I also knew as a 13-year-old black girl living in South Africa that I lived in an unequal society and that beyond my grandmother’s four-roomed house in Meadowlands, there was a harsh and cruel world. I also understood that people were looking to Oliver Tambo as ANC president to engage the apartheid government to release Nelson Mandela and to liberate South Africa from minority rule.
When President Nelson Mandela was released from prison, there was hope in my heart things would change for the better. A lot of things changed, I later came to understand what our constitution is, I actually owned a small pocket-sized copy of the constitution which I would carry in my bag – It was my weapon, I would whip it out every time I felt my rights we violated.
Today I’m struck by the fact that Oliver Tambo would have been a 100 years old this year. To be honest it is only through research on him that I begin to appreciate him as a leader, a father. I must personally say thank you for the sacrifices he made, for the vision that he had for South Africa and all the people who live in it.
I learned more about him as a leader and what he stood for, from Judge Albie Sachs. I came to understand why he so revered and respected. His humility, level-headedness his ability to drive and unite people for a common cause.
The smile and pride that was painted on Justice Sachs’s face when he spoke of his friend spoke volumes. It made me want to know more
I was moved by a memorial lecture on Oliver Tambo by Justice Albie Sachs last week. When justice Sachs opened his lecture, he said, “Through his activism over the decades, lawyer, revolutionary and politician – Oliver Reginald Tambo – left a lasting impression on South Africa and its Constitution.”
Presenting the lecture, retired judge of the Constitutional Court and Tambo’s comrade-in-exile, Albie Sachs, reflected on the former ANC President’s values, integrity and relevance in the new constitutional order.
Sachs called his friend and comrade,” a ‘natural diplomat, ‘who never ran away from hard and testing questions.It was when the Justice spoke of how Tambo, shepherded the ANC through long years of uncertainty and homesickness in exile that Tambo became real.
It was when Justice Sachs spoke of how OR, as Sachs affectionately called him, shepherded the ANC through long years of uncertainty and homesickness in exile. How Tambo, during his fifty years in the organisation, was a role player of every key area within the party. Both a founding member and secretary of the ANC Youth League in 1944; general secretary of the ANC from 1952; leader of the ANC’s Mission in Exile 1960; ANC President between 1977 and 1990; then National Chairperson until his death in 1993.
This is how Justice Albie Sachs remembered Oliver Tambo at a lecture hosted by the University of Pretoria’s Law division. …
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