Tambo and Mandela had a unique relationship that started when they first met at the University of Fort Hare, and continued throughout their lives until Tambo’s passing in 1993. Theirs was a strong bond that saw them rise to be international leaders, showcasing selflessness, humility and collaboration beyond life’s challenges. They managed to stay friends and comrades even when they were separated with Mandela being incarcerated on Robben Island for 27 years, and Tambo in exile for 30 years. Their life story demonstrates true friendship and exemplary leadership, sealed by shared values for justice and human rights.
In celebration of the unique relationship that Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela had and a friendship that traversed years and hardship, the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation (OATF) and the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) hosted an event, Tambo and Mandela in Conversation. Panellists Lindiwe Mabuza, Mac Maharaj and Luli Callinicos shared their memories and the lessons they learned from these giants.
In her opening remarks, OATF CEO Ms. Linda Vilakazi encouraged audience members to take from the rich legacy left behind by these leaders, and think about how they can do better individually and as a collective.
Talking about their leadership, Mac spoke about Nelson Mandela’s resourcefulness and Oliver Tambo’s resilience. Lindiwe added onto this, elaborating on how Tambo was a builder who not only unified the ANC, but ensured that the children born in exile were properly educated and taken care of. Luli spoke further and illustrated how Nelson Mandela worked to unite prisoners of different political prisoners on Robben Island.
Engaging specifically to the audience members who were born post 1994, moderator Iman Rappetti asked how they had been affected by these giants. Wits SRC president, Kefentse Mkhari said that the lessons he has drawn from Tambo and Mandela is that the youth need to critically analyse the times they live in and engage in struggles relevant to their time. Supporting this, Bongani Masilela spoke about optimising inter-generational lessons from leaders.
To close the event off, Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang implored all in attendance to live, rather than romanticize the values that were shown by Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela.
Here is the link to the video of the event
Wits School of Governance, Donald Gordan Auditorium
4 july 2017