Oliver Tambo Biography

Oliver Tambo was the interim president of the ANC (African National Congress) of the South African “anti-apartheid” political party. When he served, he did the bulk of the time while he was in exile.

Born on October 25, 1917, in Bizana, South Africa. This radical would go on to serve while in exile as the acting president of the ANC, and his party agitated the apartheid regime. He eventually returned to South Africa in 1990 and turned over party leadership to the nations first democratic president; Nelson Mandela.

Oliver Reginald Tambo, often called OR, belonged to the Pondo people. Twenty-seven years after his birth (1944), Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela helped to form the Youth League of the ANC.

Oliver Tambo the Missionary

With a desire to be a priest, Tambo taught at a missionary school. However, he learned that in order to bring change and equality to his people swiftly, he needed to study law. He believed legal action proved a more powerful tool to dismantle state-supported segregation.

Fifty-two years into the twentieth century, he joined with Mandela to open the Johannesburg-based law firm. It was the first black South African law firm. Tambo was the vanguard of ANC political activity. His radical work further agitated the apartheid (the caste system enforced upon the native black population by the white-controlled government).

Oliver Tambo South African Biography

Eventually, many party members were arrested in 1956 for treason. They were later cleared.  Some members were charged again. This round found his colleague Mandela sentenced to life in prison, and himself exiled.

Coordinating Guerrilla Movements

While in exile, Tambo established residences in Zambia and London. He received party backing from European nations, such as Holland, East Germany, and even the Soviet Union. While overseas, Tambo coordinated resistance and guerrilla movements mobilized in South Africa. Despite internal organizational struggles, he was still able to keep the multiracial ANC intact.

South African Black Radical Fought for the People

Faithful to finding positive solutions for his people, still Tambo was noted for his graceful approach. Tambo was able to return to his native country in 1990 when the ban against the ANC was lifted by new South African President F.W. de Klerk. A black radical to the core, Oliver Tambo fought progressively for equality and for the people.




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The Late Great Nelson Mandela as President

The Late Great Nelson Mandela as President

Many people know or have heard of the late great Nelson Mandela, as a president, but more as the South African leader. Nelson was born in a village in South Africa called Mvezo, which is in Umtata. This was part of South Africa’s Cape Province.

His middle name is Rolihlahla, which actually means “troublemaker.” Not Mandela, a troublemaker? He made a lot of trouble for racist whites in South Africa, and perhaps some for himself. Nelson will forever be known as the South African political activist, which steered him into the positions he held in his later life.

This black radical spent over 25 years of his life in prison because he opposed the apartheid regime. He was freed from prison in 1990, and four short years later, he was being sworn in as South Africa’s first president. For obvious reasons, this was a big deal.

The MLK Jr. of South Africa

Many men and women have been presidents of countries, but not many presidents have won Nobel Peace Prizes. President Mandela was one of them to win the Nobel Prize, in 1993. He won for his efforts to end racial segregation in South Africa. You can view him as the Martin Luther King Jr. of South Africa.

This kind of goes to show, if the FBI in America did not put out an assassin on Dr. King, Dr. King could have been the first black US president perhaps (we digress). Back to Mandela; before being imprisoned wrongfully, Mandela professionally was an attorney.

He knew the law. And because of racial inequalities, he was in high demand to help stop the apartheid. He was up for the battle because he was committed to the cause. He and other members of the ANC (African National Congress) were arrested for treason.

Nelson Mandela Arrested for Fighting the Apartheid System

Acquitted, Mandela reformed and retooled, only to be rearrested and this time put in jail. Imprisonment was a learning period, and it made Nelson stronger and also well known throughout the world. Although the struggle appeared to be him fighting against white people, Mandela spoke differently. He felt he was fighting against the apartheid system.

When Nelson was released from prison on February 11th of 1990, the country took it as the end of the apartheid. When he assumed power in South Africa as the first president of the democratic state, he wasn’t a vengeful leader. Instead, the late great Mandela was extremely forgiving and generous.

He supported even white groups, encouraging all people to support the Springboks, a group symbolized as white supremacy. That would equate, in the United States, to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocating for black US citizens to support the KKK (Ku Klux Klan).

Mandela both a peace and black radical…

This was known as the epitome of peace and forgiveness. It catapulted his status as one of the world’s greatest leaders. He did it his way, supporting so-called villains like Colonel Gaddafi, President Fidel Castro, and President Yasser Arafat. Certainly a radical, and we salute the late great Nelson Mandela, as president, as a political activist, as a social activist, and peace radical. Nelson Mandela, black radical.


Take the time to read about this great man, in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom!*

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