Tambo family wants remains back from ‘exile’ – against Adelaide’s ‘wishes’
The children of Oliver and Adelaide Tambo say the bodies should stay in Gauteng
The three children of the late Oliver and Adelaide Tambo have refused a request from their family in the Eastern Cape to have the couple's remains reburied in their ancestral home.
The children say they are honouring their mother's wishes to be buried in Gauteng.
When Tambo died at the age of 75 in 1993, he was buried in Tamboville Cemetery on the East Rand. Adelaide Tambo was buried next to him after her death in 2007.
Tambo’s nephew, Mzukisi Tambo – son to Tambo’s younger sister, Gertrude Tambo – told Times Select last week “it would be good for family” for the remains to return home.
“We would love to see their remains coming back home to be buried at their ancestral home. The entire community of Nkantolo and Mbizana at large would love to see them return home,” said Mzukisi.
But Dali Tambo, the son of Tambo and Adelaide, on behalf of his siblings, Thembi and Tselane, said the decision to bury his parents in Gauteng was taken by his mother.
“It was my mother’s decision to have them buried here at Tamboville in the East Rand, and we as her kids have to respect that,” said Tambo.
Oliver Tambo died in 1993, just a few years after returning home from a 30-year exile in London. He died after suffering a stroke.
Mzukisi said they had hoped that when Tambo died he would be buried in the Eastern Cape, as he felt it would appease the ancestors. “In rural villages, we are strong believers in ancestors, and the two are our ancestors. We feel that if they are buried at home here, this will help the family succeed.”
He said his mother Gertrude, who is buried in Nkantolo, died thinking about the reburial of the two. “My mother had been hoping to see them here at home, buried next to their parents and aunt Adelaide next to her in-laws.”
Mzukisi’s brother Vumile, who also met the Times Select team at their Nkontolo home, said they believed if Tambo were to be returned home, a lot of development would happen for the poor Mbizana people who were struggling to get jobs.
“People know what role OR and Adelaide played in the struggle of this country. They are heroes and on the same level as the Mandelas, but very little is happening to recognise them,” he said.
“With them buried here, we as the family would be able to visit them and talk to them when we need spiritual upliftment and also community members would visit to give respect as many could not travel to Gauteng to bury them.”
The area’s village chief, Inkosi Zanocwangco Gazula, said the family’s wishes would not just be good for them, but for the province.
“They are our heroes, and having them back in the province would mean a lot. The Nkantolo area is supposed to be their final resting place, not Gauteng.”
Mzukisi likened his uncle to former president Nelson Mandela. “If we could have him and wife back here, our area would be like Mvezo and Qunu,” he said of the places where Madiba was born and buried. “Today we believe that they are still exiled, as they have not returned home.”
Mvezo has about 60 brand new rondavels, or chalets, built with the assistance of the department of arts and culture. Questions were sent to the department about the value and of the money invested in Mvezo, but at the time of writing, no response was received.
The Tambos left the country in 1960s and, on their return from exile, stayed in Johannesburg.