By Ashok Ramsarup :: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a commemorative statue of African National Congress struggle icon Oliver Reginald Tambo at the international airport in the Ekurhuleni Municipality on the East Rand in the Gauteng Province.
The nine-metre statue at the OR Tambo International was named after the stalwart who played a significant and leading role in South Africa’s freedom and democracy. Today Tambo would have celebrated his 103rd birthday.
In the ’60s Tambo addressed the United Nations calling for sanctions against the former South African apartheid regime. At that time, there was no precedent for a U.N. hearing of a petitioner from South Africa. He worked closely with Enuga Sreenivasulu Reddy who was a U.N. official in charge of action against apartheid.
Ramaphosa described Tambo as the leading architect of the country’s freedom through its darkest and most difficult moments.He said Tambo spent three decades in exile, working tirelessly to forge international support for the anti-apartheid struggle. “It is important that this statue will remind tourists as a gateway to the African continent and the rest of the world.
“It is, therefore, most fitting that this statue has been erected at this airport that bears his name, and and visitors to our country will see this magnificent bronze gleaming in the sunlight. Like the statue of President Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Tshwane, I have no doubt that this one too will become a tourist attraction,” Ramaphosa said.
As South Africa faces huge challenges, Ramaphosa said this statue was a colossus, as was the freedom fighter. He said It stood as a symbol of triumph as a nation over injustice thanks to the actions of good, brave and principled men and women like Oliver Tambo.
Ramaphosa added that this statute forms part of Ekurhuleni’s bold vision to see the country’s liberation history displayed in the province’s tourism hubs.
The icon statue showed Tambo clearly displaying a book that resembled that of the freedom charter which was officially adopted in June 1955. The anti-apartheid veteran died in 1993 after suffering a stroke. Tambo died a year before South Africa’s democratic elections in1994. He handed the baton to his freedom stalwart and colleague Nelson Mandela who later became the President of South Africa.
During the unveiling at OR Tambo International Airport, Ramaphosa was accompanied by Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the icon’s son, Dali Tambo.