The DBE, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education, the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation and Freedom Park, hosted Freedom Day, as well as the commemoration of the OR Tambo Centenary celebrations under the theme: The Year of OR Tambo: Building a better Africa and a better World. The event, which took place in the Gallery of Leaders at Freedom Park in Pretoria on 03 June 2017, saw leaders from various sectors on the African Continent converge to honour the legacy of OR Tambo. Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, the Freedom Park Acting CEO, Mr Tlou Mathura, and delegations from India, Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana paid tribute to the liberation icon.
African Freedom Day has been celebrated as far back as 1959 on the continent, including African people living abroad. The Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on 25 May 1963, after a meeting of 32 heads of African states, took a decision to change African Freedom Day to Africa Day and celebrate it annually on 25 May. The official opening of the ceremony included the hoisting of the African Union (AU) and AU Member Country Flags, as well as the singing of the AU and South African National Anthems.
“We are the proud grandchildren of Tambo, an internationalist, educator and a fervent Anti-Apartheid leader; Tambo was the greatest liberation fighter of the 20th century,” proclaimed Minister Motshekga.
Oliver Reginald Tambo was born on 27 October 1817 in Bizana Village in the Eastern Cape Province. His educational career and political life commenced in the year 1940, whilst he was a student at Fort Hare University. After being dismissed from the University, he assumed a teaching career as a Mathematics and Science teacher. Besides being a Mathematician and a teacher, the late OR Tambo was also a lawyer and a musician. During his early years with the African National Congress (ANC) he became the founding member of the ANC Youth League. During 1955 he became a member of the National Executive, the Secretary-General of the ANC and later the Deputy President. He was further elected as the President of the ANC after the passing on of i’Nkosi Albert Luthuli in 1967. The late OR Tambo passed away on 24 April 1993 and was buried in Boksburg in the Gauteng Province.
Learners from fifteen schools in the Gauteng Province were among the special guests who attended the tribute which became even more significant when learners from the Chief Albert Luthuli Primary School rendered a historical item during the commemoration. Learners posed several questions to Minister Motshekga on educational matters during a special interactive discussion session.
In response to their questions, Minister Motshekga replied that, “the curriculum will always change, especially when there is a need for learners to be taught specific skills that are relevant; hence, we are now moving towards providing technical skills. The DBE has already introduced the Three Stream Model within the education sector to empower leaners who encounter difficulty in the academic stream, so that they can become successful entrepreneurs”. Minister Motsekga also used the opportunity to inform learners about the Read to Lead Campaign and remarked: “Learners need to read more books to understand the world around them and to become avid readers”. Minister Motshekga encouraged teachers and learners to establish debating sessions and reading clubs to promote a culture of reading.
The Minister also reassured learners that: “Our National Senior Certificate (NSC) is viewed as a valuable currency because it is benchmarked at an international level to assist our learners to become globally competitive”; and further reiterated that History is a critical subject because it teaches learners about the events that shape the world. It is also helps learners to understand who they are as children of the African soil. “The subject should be strengthened to afford learners an opportunity to learn more about past and current African leaders”, the Minister said.
In conclusion, Minister Motshekga thanked those teachers who follow the example of education icons such as Tambo, for their dedication in ensuring that learners acquire a quality basic education to equip them as future leaders and role models.
"We seek to create a non-racial, non-sexist, united and democratic society. We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity. Using the power you derive from the discovery of the truth about racism in South Africa, you will help us to remake our part of the world into a corner of the globe on which all -- of which all of humanity can be proud.” Tambo’s address at the George Washington University, 27 January 1987