About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Tambo, Oliver

1917 - 1993

Oliver Tambo was born in the Eastern Cape and graduated from Fort Hare in 1941 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He was a founding member of the ANCYL in 1944, becoming its president in 1948. In 1946 he was elected to the Transvaal Executive of the ANC. Tambo and Mandela became partners in a legal practice in 1952, and both were among the 156 accused in the 1956 Treason Trial. Two years later Tambo became Deputy President of the ANC, but after Sharpeville in 1960 he went abroad to mobilise opposition against apartheid. By 1990 ANC missions had been established in 27 countries.

In 1967, after the death of Chief Albert Luthuli, Tambo became Acting President of the ANC, his appointment being confirmed at the Morogoro Conference in 1969. He was re-elected as President in 1985, at the same time becoming head of the Politico-Military Council (PMC) and Commander in Chief of uMkhonto weSizwe.

In 1989 he suffered a stroke, but returned to South Africa in 1991 when he was elected National Chairperson of the ANC.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.