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ANC: Statement by Jackson Mthembu, African National Congress spokesperson, on Amampondomise (02/10/2009)

2nd October 2009


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ANC President Jacob Zuma has been invited as guest of honour at the annual commemoration of the traditions, rich culture and heritage of AmaMpondomise, kuTsolo in the Eastern Cape Province. Though taking place in October, the gathering had originally been set for September, the Heritage Month in which all South Africans unite in celebration of all the values, traditions, cultural practices and expressions that make us uniquely and proudly South African.
The event will be attended by, among others, Eastern Cape Premier Ms Noxolo Kiviet, KwaZulu-Natal Premier and ANC KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Chairperson, Dr Zweli Mkhize, who will speak on behalf of AmaMbo, as well as the President of CONTRALESA, other traditional leaders, representatives of government, councillors, religious leaders, the media and the general public.
As old as the history of traditional communities itself, AmaMpondomise occupy a significant space in the rich tapestry and cultural diversity of South Africa. The nation feeds from and shares many cultural values and traditions with the neighbouring AmaXhoza and AmaZulu nations.
Perhaps the most recognizable feature of AmaMpondomise ancestry and folklore can be found in the Majola friendly family snake, not to be confused with any venomous and dangerous snakes of the wild. By tradition, the snake is welcome as a sign of izinyanya zakoJolinkomo. There are countless other features of the AmaMpondo tradition and culture that are honoured and respected up to this day.
The single most renowned import of the AmaMpondomise to the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa has been in the form of that great humanitarian and selfless leader of the African National Congress, former ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo. Embodied in him, were many values that we consider to be integral to the AmaMpondomise Heritage. They include:
Very few leaders of the Movement can be said to be as humble as OR Tambo was. Completely unassuming and accessible to all members of the Liberation Movement, OR taught and bequeathed comrades with an incredible sense of humility which he had as a cultural attribute. He was a true father to the liberation movement. For him, no cause was bigger or lesser. He refused no one.
At a time when the ANC faced perhaps its greatest challenges, including torture, murder, prosecution, persecution, suppression, banning and imprisonment of its leaders, OR Tambo lived and personified the unity of the ANC. He led the ANC during the most trying times, in which he was able to unite the country, inside and outside South African borders; he was able to unite the continent of Africa and the world community behind the just struggle for a democratic and free South Africa. He was the greatest unifier of our times.
Those who worked with Tambo will tell you that he commandeered a lot of respect because his was a very respectable life indeed. He valued and respected every activist and every human being. This was one of his inalienable traits. He symbolized respect. Needless to say, he bequeathed it to the Movement and its cadres.
As if by instinct, OR Tambo listened, deciphered, analysed and provided leadership to virtually all the challenges facing the Movement at the time. We are convinced that this was part of his Pondo heritage. Many continue to attest to his incredible insight that was to ultimately bring us our freedom and democracy in 1994.
Closely aligned to his insight was his sense of foresight. When comrades tended to be rash and impatient, OR was a study in considered thought and vision. It was this ability to visualize the future that ensured that many of us sought not only to liberate South Africa, but liberate also the oppressors themselves so that together we could build the country we wanted South Africa to be. We value this feature of AmaMpondomise heritage.
Selfless service to the people
Armed with a Bachelor of Science degree and a teacher by profession, OR Tambo nevertheless abandoned all that for the greater call to be of service to the people. Opening the first ever law office by black people, OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela gave up all their privileges to dedicate themselves to a life in service of the people and the struggle for freedom and democracy.
OR never did anything for reward. He never asked or campaigned for any position in the ANC. Instead, he saw his life as being dedicated to serve his people in whatever capacity they wanted him to. This is an attribute that is so sorely needed in the Movement and in our endeavours to build a better South Africa for all who live in it.
The ANC represented by its President is highly honoured to share this cultural celebration with AmaMpondomise, acknowledging their struggle for a just and equitable South Africa, as well as their continued and much valued contribution to rebuilding our country on the values of ubuntu, of respect, unity, humility and selfless service to the people.
We are forever grateful to AmaMpondomise for giving us their son to lead the ANC with such vision and courage. His legacy and the heritage of AmaMpondomise live on in the ANC and its entire leadership. We wish AmaMpondomise a happy and long lasting heritage.



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