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Memorial to Late Apartheid Fighter Oliver Tambo Unveiled in London

A memorial to the late South African fighter against apartheid, Oliver Tambo, has been unveiled in London. Tendai Maphosa attended the event for VOA in the neighborhood in which Tambo and his family lived during their long years in exile.

The late president of the African National Congress, Oliver Tambo, was honored in a ceremony in the London borough of Haringey. Tambo and his family lived in the area for 30 years while he led the fight against apartheid.

The centerpiece of the memorial in the Albert Road Recreational Ground is a bust of Tambo by the now deceased Ian Walters, whose statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled recently in Parliament Square. A plaque was also unveiled at the house where the Tambos lived.

British Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Straw said although Tambo died a year before the first democratic elections in South Africa, his legacy will endure not only in South Africa.

"When Oliver Tambo was standing up for the rights of his countrymen and women, he was standing up for the rights of us all. When he refused to accept that all South Africans could not be free and full citizens, he refused to accept that every man could not live freely," he said.

Peter Hain is the British Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. During his youth, he was a noted anti-apartheid activist. He said although Tambo may be less famous than Mr. Mandela, he kept the struggle going when Mr. Mandela and other African National Congress leaders were in prison.

"Those of us involved in the anti-apartheid movement know he directed the struggle for freedom from here in this London suburb for over 30-years, because when the dark days of repression descended on South Africa in the early 1960s, he decided with the agreement of Nelson Mandela and the ANC leadership in South Africa to come abroad. Tambo was the leader while the rest of the leadership was in jail," he said.

Tambo's three children were at the ceremony. His son Dali was only a year old when his parents took him to London. He paid tribute to the British public and the people of Haringey.

"We longed for this day when we would return to Haringey. Having been home, return as free men and women, children of struggle for so long, but today citizens of a free non-racial democratic South Africa. And again we return, not just to unveil the bust, but to thank you as the citizens of Great Britain for your succor," he said.

According to the Haringey Borough Council, the bust is the first stage of the memorial. Plans for the future include more landscaping and the laying of a stone each year on South Africa Freedom Day.