” – A nation, a people, a country, that does no care for its children, has not future and deserves none” – O.R Tambo
Inspired by O.R Tambo’s passion for youth development and empowerment, and the success of the Masupatsela program, the O.R Tambo Edu Tour is a 10 day journey to Tanzania, full of culture and experience, where youth are exposed to the history of the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO) and Dakawa with the objective of broadening young perspectives, preserving African heritage, and building global citizens, amongst other things. The O.R Tambo Edu Tour program includes basic lessons in leadership and community development.
The tour is the SOMAFCO Trust’s flagship youth empowerment program aimed at honouring the legacy of Oliver Tambo, under whose leadership SOMAFCO developed into the most famous educational institution arising from the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The program also reflects on leaders such as Julius Nyerere and the role of the youth in the present and future. Today these facilities and symbols of freedom continue as centers of education and development, to empower many generations of youth from Tanzania and other African countries for years to come.
The O.R Tambo Edu Tour explores the “brief but full life” of Solomon Mahlangu, his principles and values, but most importantly, the story of humanity.
The O.R Tambo Edu Tour program began in 2008 with the support of the Independent Development Trust (IDT) , the then Umsobomvu Youth Fund (now NYDA) both being agencies of the South African government and resources giant BHP Billiton. Resuming in 2010, the O.R Tambo Edu Tour has since grown bigger, broader, and more refined, gaining greater exposure within South Africa, ensuring the experience and knowledge is spread beyond the participants of the tour.
The main objective of the tour is to empower the youth through travel, exposure, and engaging in the South African history that unfolded in Tanzania as a result of apartheid, particularly as a result of the 1976 student uprisings in Soweto. Youth are also empowered through cultural learning and interaction with youth from Tanzania where exchange of experience and ideas takes place through dialogue. Other key aims of the tour are preserving and promoting the heritage of the sites in Tanzania through imparting the history that lives in them and the stories of the people these facilities empowered at the time.
An International History of solidarity
The legacy of SOMAFCO embodies the powerful spirit of international solidarity, with support for SOMAFCO coming from different corners of the world. SOMAFCO is a living museum of international solidarity, and for a just and more humane world. It is an extraordinary school that ordinary people of the world helped build and a symbol of the struggle against apartheid, a system that was described by the United Nations as “a crime against humanity” in 1964. SOMAFCO was the college built and operated by black, white, Asian, male, female, students and adults; it was the school that carried the spirit of the youth of 1976 who stood against the behemoth that was apartheid government armed only with dustbin lids and stones. It was nothing less than a dynamic and humanitarian action that shone bright as a symbol of the best attributes in humanity and the hope for South Africa.
The abbreviation SOMAFCO is often used interchangeably to refer to a sprawling and sophisticated complex that arose on a piece of land donated by the Tanzanian government to the African National Congress (ANC) in the aftermath of the 1976 youth uprising. This area was known as Mazimbu, and was designated for South African exiles under the administration of the ANC, a liberation movement banned in 1960 and now the governing party.
With the assistance for the international community, UNESCO, Swedish Development Agency-SIDA, Finnish Development Agency, Norwegian Development Agency and the widespread solidarity movement and the Dutch Solidarity movement, the ANC established:
SOMAFCO/Mazimbu was an extensive community which topped 5000 people at any given moment. Mazimbu as well as the Dakawa settlement, were handed over to the Tanzanian government by O. R Tambo to the Tanzanian government in 1992. The combined value of the complexes was a conservative $300 million in 1992 based on the infrastructure alone.
A unique feature of the the O.R Tambo Uhuru Africa Initiative is that it achieves all of the above whilst having FUN, building Peace and Solidarity!
The Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO) did not emerge as a big bang and cannot be interpreted in isolation from South Africa’s journey to democracy: It is part of a continuum of history and the contributions of those directly and indirectly affected. SOMAFCO emerged more specifically as a result of South Africa’s peculiar history, dating centuries back.
About Solomon Mahlangu
Born in Pretoria* on 10 July in 1956, Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu was the second son of Martha Mahlangu. His father left the family in 1962, and from then on Mahlangu only saw him infrequently.
About O.R Tambo
Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo (OR) was born in the village of Kantilla, Bizana, in the Mpondoland (eQawukeni), region of the Eastern Cape,
About Mwalimu Julius Nyerere
Julius Kambarage Nyerere was one of Africa’s leading independence heroes and a leading light behind the creation of the Organization of African Unity, the architect of ujamaa…
About Tanzania and South Africa
The history of Tanzania is filled with stories of struggle and triumph, victory and peace…
Why the tour named after O.R Tambo
Ossie, the project manager for Mazimbu/SOMAFCO complex notes that;
“… We were groping in the dark until the first visit of President O.R Tambo in February of 1978. The President said that we should build a school that would not only be the pride of students who would study here, but also for all the oppressed people in South Africa. He added that we should build a school that would always remain a monument to the solidarity that exists between the people of Tanzania and the oppressed people of South Africa…”– Oswald Denis 1985 ANC Progress Report on Mazimbu
It is clear that without the leadership, support and will of O.R Tambo, SOMAFCO may not have developed into what it became, and considering the other comparable examples, it may not have emerged at all. More importantly, the international isolation of South Africa came as a result of O.R Tambo’s tireless globetrotting. SOMAFCO stood as a shining star, a reminder to the entire world of the opposition to oppression of the majority of people in South Africa because of racism by a minority group. It was a manifestation of the vision of a future South Africa, hence it was often described as a “window into a liberated South Africa”.
No 43 Trewlaney Park by Elias Masilela | Making of an MK Cadre by Wonga Wellie Bottoman | Education in Exile by Sean Morrow, Brown Maaba and Loyiso Pumulani |
Foundations of a New South Africa by John Pampallis | In Her Fall Rose a Nation by Ace Moloi (2012 O.R Tambo Edu Tour). Make a book recommendation here.