13 February 2012

Oliver Tambo

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 5b

Oliver Tambo

This thoroughly confident speech of O R Tambo’s in December 1969 (linked below), was made not long after the ANC’s Conference in May of that year that had adopted the famous Strategy and Tactics document.

After the banning of the ANC in 1960, an equal or greater set-back had been the arrest of the top revolutionary leadership at Lilieasleaf Farm, Rivonia, Johannesburg on 11th July 1963, including Govan Mbeki who featured here yesterday.

The 1960s, we can see now, were far from being an interlude. What was laid down in those years is what was going to come to pass. That meant, in Tambo’s words, that “the enemy is headed for inevitable and ignominious defeat.”

The speech was broadcast on the anniversary of the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the “new national army” as Tambo called it.

Tambo’s typically broad historical sweep, in this short speech, includes an acknowledgement of PAIGC, the revolutionary liberation movement led at the time at the time by another in this series, Amilcar Cabral, which was about to achieve a stunning victory.

The unbanning of the ANC and the return of Tambo to South Africa were not achieved until more than twenty years later. Yet it is easy to see why the ANC used to say in those years: “Victory is Certain!”

In the next and last item in this fifth part of our African Revolutionary Writers series we will see, through the eyes of Comrade Mzala (Jabulani Nxumalo), how the theory and practice of armed and political struggle drew inexorably towards its goal.

These four pieces of writing from “Africa’s Oldest Liberation Movement”, taken together, should leave no doubt as to the systematic and deliberate nature of the ANC’s project, and the all-round exemplary way in which it has been carried out to date.

You can read more of O R Tambo’s speeches here.