Tambo, a leader in exile

Oliver Tambo- portraitIn the second part of Have you Heard from Johannesburg? , I learned what Oliver Tambo did for South Africa. While Mandela was in prison, Tambo was the leader of the African National Congress and he kept fighting against apartheid. He was aiming for a more equal and fair South Africa, and he was therefore claimed to be, like many other people and especially leaders in South Africa, a communist terrorist. People believed that with the aid of the Soviet Union; the communists would get a hold of the wealth in South Africa.

Tambo was in exile for almost 30 years, and his main goal when he lived abroad was to reach out and make people in Africa, and people in the Western countries, aware of what was going on in South Africa. Conveniently, many African countries broke free from their colonial rules in the 1960s and they became independent. I believe those 17 countries that was able to gain independence showed South Africa that it was possible for the people, and the ANC, to make a difference in the country. As more countries and people became aware of what was going on, and how people were treated in South Africa, they decided to boycott products and businesses in the country. Although there were still countries, actually the superpowers such as the UK and the US who did not support the ANC, but instead supported the anti-communist ruling government. The US thought the boycott of products was “illegal” and clearly unnecessary.


A country that did pay attention to what was going on in South Africa was Sweden and their former Prime Minister, Olof Palme. Olof Palme was a close friend of Oliver Tambo, and he was also a great support for South Africa. The Former Prime Minister was not the only Swede creating awareness around the chaos in South Africa, but other journalists and writers were actively involved in spreading the word about apartheid and boycotting goods from the country. When I learned what Olof Palme and the Swedish people protested against I do recognize the Swedish mentality considering I am fully Swedish and I grew up there. Many Swedish people, and the country’s political parties are often socialists, and the equality between people is the country’s main focus.  I think Sweden played an important role on the ANC struggle because of Olof Palme and the Swedish people were able to make other countries aware of South African struggle, even if the UK and the US decided not to.

I think it is very strange how the US did not stand up for the ANC and the people fighting apartheid, but instead they agreed with a South African National party that was segregating and humiliating many people. I think that is strange considering the US signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approximately 20 years earlier.


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