President Jacob Zuma has hailed the Zambian government for the honour it bestowed on late African National Congress (ANC) leader, Oliver Tambo. He was speaking at the official launch of the OR Tambo Heritage Site.
It is a house where Tambo spent 22 years while in exile in Zambia.
The Zambian government, with the assistance of private partners, renovated the house, painted it in ANC colours and declared it a national monument.
Senior leaders of both governments attended the event in the capital Lusaka.
President Zuma says the house will go a long way towards telling the story of South Africa’s liberation history.
“From this house, which will be developed into an Interpretative Centre, our mutual bonds of friendship, intermarriage, history, culture migrations and heritage will be revisited and researched. South African children born at the University Teaching Hospital, their parents and grandparents who studied at the University of Zambia and at Evelyn Hone College, to name but a few institutions, will have the opportunity to learn about the South African liberation struggle and Zambia’s role in it.”
Oliver Tambo was one of the many activists who found refuge in Zambia during the struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
President Zuma thanked Lusaka for opening its doors to activists, particularly those from the SADC region.
“Indeed, Zambia’s history of housing the liberation movements of Southern Africa is a rich heritage that should not be left to die. It should be researched and celebrated as we do today in jointly recognising the significance of the OR Tambo Heritage Site and jointly launch it for the benefit of young Zambians and young South Africans. The youth have an opportunity in this OR Tambo Heritage Site to learn about Pan Africanism through the history of those who lived and promoted it. This provides a great opportunity for research and the writing of our own stories.”
This historic moment was not lost on the host and the significance of unveiling it in October.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu says, “This occasion is falling within the same month, October, when Zambia will also be commemorating, not only our independence, but also the life of one of our gallant leaders of Zambia, the founding father of our ruling party, the Patriotic Front, Michael Sata who died on the 28th October 2014. May his soul continue to rest in peace. The month of October is also Heritage Month in South Africa. Indeed, it is a memorable month for both Zambia and South Africa.”
Neither the age nor frail health could prevent the man who first welcomed Tambo to Zambia from attending. At 93, former President Kenneth Kaunda has been in and out of hospital.
“We must never forget that the friendship between our two peoples is bound by common aspirations, a common history and the sweat, blood and bonds of brothers and sisters both inside and outside South Africa who gave their all, including in too many instances their very lives to maintain the freedom and peace that we have.”
The South African government has declared 2017, the Year of Oliver Tambo. And this is to honour his contribution and memory in a year he would have turned 100 years.
– By Amos Phago