South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa - Unveiling of Oliver Reginald Tambo Commemorative Statue

press release

Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the unveiling of the Oliver Reginald Tambo commemorative statue, OR Tambo International Airport, Ekurhuleni

Programme Director,

Premier of Gauteng, Mr David Makhura,

Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni, Cllr Mzwandile Masina,

Members of the Tambo Family,

Councillors,

Members of the diplomatic corps,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my privilege to be part of this historic occasion.

Every year during October we pay tribute to Oliver Reginald Tambo, one of the finest leaders and visionaries our country has produced.

He dedicated his life to the people of South Africa and to the achievement of democracy.

He led the struggle for freedom through its darkest and most difficult moments.

He spent through three decades in exile, working tirelessly to forge international support for the anti-apartheid struggle.

To the world, OR Tambo was the voice of South Africa's liberation movement.

He articulated the aspirations of every South African man, woman and child who yearned for freedom.

His name was known around the world, from Oslo to London, from Accra to Moscow.

Oliver Tambo was the architect of our freedom.

Thanks to his activism, people living in these distant lands got to know of our struggle and gladly joined it.

It is therefore most fitting that this statue has been erected here at this airport that bears his name, and that is a gateway to the continent and to the world.

As they take their first steps on South African soil, visitors to our country will see this magnificent bronze gleaming in the sunlight.

This statue is a colossus, as was the man it commemorates.

It stands as a symbol of our triumph as a nation over injustice thanks to the actions of good, brave and principled men and women like Oliver Tambo.

This is a project that has been long in the making, and I want to congratulate the City of Ekurhuleni for your persistence in bringing it to fruition.

Mayor Masina, this statue forms part of Ekurhuleni's bold vision to see our country's liberation history prominently displayed in the province's tourism hubs.

Like the statue of President Mandela at the Union Buildings in Tshwane, I have no doubt that this one too will become a tourist attraction.

And that it will become an essential stop for visitors to the OR Tambo Cultural Precinct, which is doing so much to preserve the legacy of this great man.

Allow me to conclude by thanking all who have made this day possible - the architects and the designers, Airports Company South Africa, the national and provincial Departments of Transport, the Gauteng provincial government and, above all, the City of Ekurhuleni.

I also want to thank the Tambo family for their cooperation and assistance with this project to honour their father.

In erecting this statue we affirm the importance of preserving our heritage for the benefit of future generations.

But we are also telling the world we have not forgotten our heroes.

We remember them, we want their stories known and we want their lives to inspire and encourage us as we strive together for a better world.

I thank you.

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