Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Republic of South Africa 2015
Oliver Reginald Tambo

ISSUE DATE: 27 October 2015
CIRCULATION: 20 000 sheets
STAMP/SHEET SIZE: 24 x 30.45 mm / 105 x 65 mm
 STAMP DESIGN: Thea Clemons

Respected for being steadfast in his resolve, Oliver Tambo was also known for his grace, warmth and affection. He has been described as "a legend who climbed the ladder of sacrifice for the realisation of freedom and democracy", the "co-founder of modern South Africa", and "the anti-apartheid movement's link to the world".

"Oliver lived not because he could breath. He lived not because blood flowed through his veins. Oliver lived not because he did all the things that all of us as ordinary men and women do. Oliver lived because he had surrendered his very being to the people."
This eulogy by Nelson Mandela at Oliver Tambo's funeral, emphasises Tambo's selfless nature - a man who personified the African concept of ubuntu.

Born five years after the birth of the African National Congress (ANC), Oliver Reginald Tambo, or OR as he was popularly known by his peers, spent most of his life serving in the struggle against apartheid. He was born on 27 October 1917 in the rural town of Mbizana in the Eastern Cape, where he grew up and attended primary school. He completed his high school education in Johannesburg and pursued tertiary studies at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape, obtaining a BSc degree in 1941. He was unable to complete his honours degree after being expelled from the university for joining a student boycott.

Working with Mandela
Oliver Tambo later returned to his high school in Johannesburg to teach science and maths. He joined the ANC, and in 1944, he and Nelson Mandela became founding members of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL). In 1948, Tambo and Walter Sisulu were elected to the National Executive Committee of the ANC. Tambo also served on the committee that drew up the Programme of Action, which was adopted as ANC policy in 1949. Soon after the Programme of Action was adopted, Tambo left his teaching post and set up a legal partnership with Nelson Mandela, forming the first black law firm in the country. Tambo became increasingly politically active in opposition to apartheid, and was arrested with other party members in 1956 for treason. During this period, Tambo married Adelaide Tshukudu, a nurse and member of the ANCYL. They had three children.

In 1959, Tambo was served with a five-year banning order. Under instruction of the ANC Executive, he left South Africa to set up ANC missions in exile in Egypt, Ghana, Morocco and London. In 1961, the ANC adopted the armed struggle as part of its fight against apartheid and Tambo secured the cooperation of many African governments. After the death of ANC President Albert Luthuli in 1967, Tambo was first appointed Acting President of the ANC, and two years later as its President. In the 1970s he was active in promoting the cause of the ANC worldwide, including through an address to the United Nations. In 1985, Tambo was re-elected President of the ANC and also served as head of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC. In 1989, he suffered a stroke and underwent extensive medical treatment.

Return to South Africa
With the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, and Nelson Mandela's release from prison, Tambo returned to South Africa after three decades in exile and was elected National Chairperson of the ANC. He was subsequently elected Chairperson of the ANC's first Legal National Conference in South Africa and in 1992 he became Chairperson of the ANC's Emancipation Commission. Oliver Tambo died on 24 April 1993 in Johannesburg, at the age of 75. His efforts in rallying international support for the ANC in more than 27 countries during the apartheid years, entrenched the importance of South Africa as the gateway into Africa for the rest of the world. It is therefore fitting that our country's major international airport was renamed OR Tambo International Airport to serve as a tribute to his legacy.

The miniature sheet designed by the Philatelic Services' art studio, features historic photographs from Oliver Tambo's life. The image in the background shows Tambo in action as a science teacher at St Peters High School, Rosettenville, Johannesburg.

Stamp images and description thanks to South African Post Office

South African Post Office COLLECTORZPEDIA