OR Tambo, the longest serving ANC president was born about 100 years ago in the village of Nkantolo In Bizana in eastern Pondoland in what is now Eastern Cape, South Africa. Tambo dedicated his life to the liberation of the Africans and especially South Africans. He was a visionary and a leader per excellence who thought of the people before himself. The former president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki once said “What distinguished Oliver Tambo from other leaders was an unwavering commitment to serve the people of South Africa with no expectation of any personal benefit.” At his funeral, late Nelson Mandela spoke of Tambo “Oliver Tambo has not died, because the ideals of freedom, human dignity and a colour – blind respect for every individual cannot.” Mandela also said of his friend “Oliver was pure gold, there was gold in his intellectual brilliance, gold in his warmth and humanity, gold in his tolerance and generosity, gold in his unfailing loyalty and self-sacrifice. As much as I respected him as a leader; that is how much I loved him as a man.” As we come to the end of the year that has been devoted to celebrate his life and times, we need to learn vital lessons from this great African and remind ourselves the true definition of greatness. Greatness is all about serving and influencing others positively. Today’s leaders on our continent and all over the world must see themselves as representatives of God who must give account to Him. They must lead with love and humility. They ought to be leaders who will advocate what he did when he said “We seek to live in peace with our neighbours and the peoples of the world in conditions of equality, mutual respect, and equal advantage.” Also, like Tambo moved his party and nation forward on the basis of building consensus, today’s leaders can move their countries forward and overcome the many challenges they face.
“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.” ~ Oliver Tambo