Adelaide Frances Tambo

Born in Vereeniging on the 18th July 1929 and educated at St Thomas Practising School, Mama Tambo had an early start to her political life, when at the age of 10 she had to witness the arrest of her ailing grandfather. She was an active member of the ANC and as a teenager at Orlando High School she started working as a courier for the ANC.

In 1947, at age 18 she was elected chairperson of the ANC Youth League George Goch Branch, and met OR Tambo at a meeting of the Eastern township branch of the ANC.  They married in 1956 during the Treason Trial and had decided early on that their lives as a couple would be dedicate to the liberation cause.

In 1960 they were asked to leave South Africa to carry on the necessary work of the anti-Apartheid movement.  Mama Tambo was a tireless campaigner for the ANC and continued her work as a courier when she had settled in London. She was furthermore a founder member of the Pan-African Womens Organisation. In December of 1990, OR Tambo and Adelaide moved back to South Africa with their whole family and settled in Johannesburg. She was elected to represent the ANC in parliament from 1994 to 1999.

She had always occupied herself with community work, and launched the Adelaide Tambo Trust for the Elderly. She received numerous awards for her work in the anti- Apartheid movement, including The Order of the Baobab in Gold in 2002 and the Order of Simon of Cyrene (Bestowed by the Anglican Church) in 2007.

Adelaide Tambo passed away at the age of 77 on the 31st January 2007. She was honored with a state funeral on the 10th February and is  buried next to her husband at the  Tamboville Cemetery in Wattville, Benoni


1929 Born on 18 July

Attends St Thomas Practising School and Orlando High

Works as a nurse at Pretoria General Hospital

1944 Starts working as a courier for the African National Congress.

1947 Elected ANC Youth League chairperson (George Goch Branch)

1956 Marries OR Tambo

1960 Leaves South Africa to carry on the work of the ANC

1990 Returns to South Africa

1994 Elected to represent the ANC in parliament

2002 Receives order of the Baobab in gold

2007 Dies on 31st January at age 77