A letter to the late Oliver Reginald Tambo, former President of the African National Congress.
This day gave the world a gift. I am not worthy to even eat the crumbs at your table, Oh Tambo.
Today we are not worthy to stand in the placeholder of history that your soul left behind. When you departed from this world you left with pretty much all of your dignity and since then there has been no one who even is worthy of wearing your dirty socks – let alone the shiny shoes that the world felt as you went around the globe to represent your people oppressed for decades on end.
It’s a pity, Oh Tambo, that you perished before you saw the fruit of your toil. Your people continue to languish in poverty and the promise of freedom is still a dream painfully deferred.
A few have turned into millionaires from ill-gotten gains, abandoning the mission to stop the hunger of our people. The Rich are getting richer, The Poor are suffering and have your revolutionary intentions as the only hope remaining.
What is worse is the death of conscience, Oh Tambo.
Through your life as a gentle giant you taught us how to be humble in the face of worldly pride. We have abandoned all consciousness and have found new definitions of the revolution. A revolution that is eating its children, Oh Tambo!
These days we need the courts that used to insult you and your comrades, telling us daily how to live our lives, telling us daily how to live up to our own revolution. This because own moral compass has all but disappeared.
A Constitution that your predecessors wrote is being unwritten every day, made not to be worth the paper it is written on. It is chewed and spat on day in and day out on the altar of patronage and unbridled theft.
I don’t mean to be a prophet of doom and gloom but it is frank to say that the National Democratic Revolution that you dedicated your life to realise has been interred with your bones, Oh gentle giant!
I know that wherever you sit and watch, it all looks like a horror movie that we as mortals can’t fully comprehend.
This is so, Oh Tambo, because you can hopefully see the hidden hand that the public can only stumble on upon revelation in the future. With what you can see when we with mortal eyes can only scratch the surface, you must be turning in your Tomb.
When some are trying to stop the truth from outing you already know the truth, oh Tambo!
When some are trying to fool the people into believing that all is well – you know how far the rot is deep, Oh Reginald.
I can’t even imagine how you must be feeling.
Oh Tambo, when meaningless wreaths are being laid at your Tomb.
What can we do to make you stop Turning in your Tomb?
Oh Tambo, My Tambo,
The ANC you led for decades is here no more,
The leaders you led with are nowhere to be seen,
The values you died espousing are espoused no more,
The dream you had for a free society has been painfully deferred, Oh Tambo.
For the honest, it is not enough to commemorate you and pretend that if you were here you would be happy.
To make you rest in peace is a mission impossible!
When we have the kind of leadership we have today,
A leadership with a dead conscience,
You have to look at your successor, dear Tambo, and weep.
You have to look at what passes as an NEC of your beloved movement and cringe.
A leadership core with no revolutionary marrow left in its backbone.
They all have to come and kneel at your feet and remember what you lived for, before your glorious movement is reduced to shreds.
Oh Tambo, My Tambo!
Against all hope I pray that your soul may rest in peace,
Because these burdens are for this generation to carry.
In your lifetime you held up the sun with revolutionary deeds.
We are yet to pick up your revolutionary spear!
Onkgopotse JJ Tabane DM
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Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is one of South Africas leading media and communications specialists, as well as a community activist and a business executive. He is currently the Chief Executive of Oresego Holdings an International Advisory Company. His most recent roles were Head of Communications for COPE , Political Advisor to the COPE parliamentary Leader as well as a Corporate Affairs Executive at the JSE listed Altron. He is a member of the University of the Western Cape Council, where he is an appointee of the Minister of Higher Education after serving two terms on the council of the Northwest University. He is an Associate of the prestigious international Institute of Independent Business (IIB). He is a regular columnist for The Sunday Independent and Pretoria News. In 2011 he rejoined the ANC as an ordinary member. Tabane is a PHD Candidate in Media and Journalism Studies at WITS University.
"Look for lessons about haunting when there are thousands of ghosts; when entire societies become haunted by terrible deeds that are systematically occurring and are simultaneously denied by every public organ of governance and communication." ~ Avery Gordon