Johannesburg airport unveils n

Johannesburg airport unveils new Oliver Tambo statue

A statue of Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo was unveiled at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Thursday, 19 October 2017.

Johannesburg airport unveils n

Anti-apartheid activist and the ANC’s first president, Tambo actively served in his position from 1967-1991. He died in April 1993, but would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year on 27 October.

The unveiling of the statue was part of the OR Tambo centenary celebrations that are being held countrywide under the theme ‘Life and Legacy of OR Tambo.’

The statue

The statue is 2.5m tall and has been positioned in the International Arrivals section of the airport. It is made even more meaningful by the fact that it depicts Tambo’s arrival at the airport after 30 years in exile.

He is seen to be stepping down from the last two steps of an aeroplane, waving and holding a case.

Other changes at the airport

It was a day of celebration: before the unveiling of the main statue, the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) auditorium and tower – the traffic control centre – was renamed OR Tambo and an OR Tambo bust was also unveiled.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, one of the celebration programme co-ordinators, said the three events of the day were an opportunity to reflect on the role the stalwart played, especially in the formation of the country’s system of constitutional democracy.

President Jacob Zuma said the installation was fitting as it was this airport at which Tambo returned to South Africa in 1990. When Tambo left South Africa on a mission to encourage other nations to institute sanctions against the country, he drove across the border, unnoticed.

“When he came back he landed as a hero, a martyr,” said Zuma.

Remembering OR Tambo

OR Tambo’s son, Dali, is grateful that the statue has finally been erected and that his father will be remembered by generations to come.

He thanked the people of South Africa who honoured his father in different ways across the country, such as in song, choral music and memorial lectures.

Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank and South African Mint released a series of four new commemorative coins honouring the late struggle stalwart. Three of the coins are collectable.

In addition, Zuma opened the OR Tambo Heritage Site house in Chelston in Lusaka, Zambia, last week while on a State visit, reported the South African Government News Agency.