Speech by the Minister Lulu Xingwana at “Mzansi Sings a tribute to Oliver Tambo” at the State Theatre

Send by emailPDF version
30 Jun 2010

The Programme Director,
Members of the Tambo family present here today

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my great honour to address you this evening at a show dedicated to one of our outstanding leaders, who fought in the struggle for freedom. 

Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo was the longest serving President of the African National Congress from 1969 to 1991 and he stands tall and unbreakable in life as in death.

He carried the torch and led the national liberation movement to a democratic South Africa.

He maintained the ANC as a unified organization throughout his period of leadership firmly believing that without unity, South Africa and indeed Africa had no future.

He likened the ANC to a broad Church and he balanced the movement ensuring its unity at all times.

He was a visionary and always endevoured to create a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa that all of us can be proud of. He led the movement during the harshest period of its struggle.

Through his untiring efforts nations of the world grew to know of the plight of the oppressed people of South Africa, and they willingly joined the anti-apartheid campaigns by the numbers, achieving a most uniformly applied economic sanction against the country.

One of the cornerstones of his legacy was democracy – under him the movement thrived and valued debate and consensus.

Cadres learnt to listen and unpack points made during debates so as to enable people to reach consensus.

We can attribute to him and our outstanding leaders before him, our ideal for South Africa as a new nation, a united people founded on fundamental principles of human dignity, democracy and equal rights for all.

Comrade OR Tambo was able to chart the way forward towards a negotiated settlement; through the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, through the unbanning of the political movements to the watershed first democratic elections.

I believe that from the Harare Declaration to the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa we are infinitely indebted to Oliver Tambo.

Comrade OR, as he was fondly called, would not have been content merely with freedom and democracy. He urged us to rebuild the culture and values that apartheid and colonialism destroyed over the decades.

He was clear when he urged all to defend the rights of the child, the woman and the man. He held high moral authority throughout his life.

He was an internationalist, highly respected by many leaders in the world. South Africa has justly named one of its notable national orders “The Friends of OR Tambo” after him and in honour of his values and legacy.

Comrade OR, stated in 1990, “It is our responsibility to break down barriers of division and create a country where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity.”

Through this production today at the State theatre, we pay tribute to this extraordinary, intellectual leader, Comrade OR Tambo, who was also very modest and humble and accessible to all.

This show that we are about to experience pays tribute to one of our greatest leaders.

This production presents our arts, culture and music in all its nuances and textures relating our history, reflecting our socio-political and economic antecedents.

This show is a reminder of another show that Comrade OR Tambo conceived of in exile, “The Amandla Cultural Ensemble” which influenced international audiences to support the Anti-apartheid struggle.

In this show the original choral melodies were rearranged by Mr. Ntoni. He merged them with township jazz creating a contemporary sound. The youth, both boys and girls from many townships form a large part of the Mzansi Ensemble.

This show is wonderfully arranged and presented by Victor Ntoni and the Music Lab.

My Minstry and Department have contributed to this project because we believe in its value as art and its power to transmit a rich cultural and political history to new generations.

Please enjoy the show.