O.R Tambo lifted the importance of education to new heights by strongly advocating for youth to further their education as an option as opposed to joining, Mkhonto We Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC.
O.R Tambo, himself a teacher, understood and was passionate about education because he understood that it causes heightened consciousness and is humanities biggest benefactor. It was also part of his conviction and belief that South Africa would be liberated and that the phase would require a well educated cohort for governing a democratic state.
The SOMAFCO of today stands as a testament to this. It is a gift to humanity that keeps on giving and producing for the future – for Africa and the world. It is also known that O.R Tambo insisted that the College should be renamed Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO), in memory of the young Solomon Mahlangu, hanged by the apartheid regime at the tender age of 22 after he was arrested whilst preparing to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising. Solomon Mahlangu was true to form , principles and values espoused by Walter Sisulu, O.R Tambo and Nelson Mandela to name but a few . His final words; “… Tell my people that I love them, they must continue the struggle. My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom…” are echoed annually, particularly on the 6th of April. For his commitment and bravery, O.R Tambo described Solomon Mahlangu as “a colossus that towered like a giant over the fascist lair”. There can be no greater accolade accorded to a hero than the words of praise from another hero.
Overall, O.R Tambo’s achievements as an individual are often understated due to his modesty, and it is conceivable that he would have contributed to this understating himself. This is where we disagree with O.R Tambo! As the SOMAFCO Trust we believe his life is a morning star worth modeling ones principles and values around, although O.R Tambo did anything but play small, we believe that the O.R Tambo Edu Tour responds to Mandela’s advice that:
“…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others….”
By elevating the name of Oliver Tambo, we drive home the point that “it is in everyone”. In 2010, the SOMAFCO Trust accordingly decided to rename the program the O.R Tambo Edu Tour, so that others could take the best of the worldly O.R Tambo and his companions, see their achievements and pick up his armor and re-imagine the future.