Address by Nelson Mandela at the funeral of Adelaide Tambo, Benoni

10 February 2007

Mister President
The Tambo Family
Comrades and Friends

Once more this morning we come to pay our last respects to a member of our generation of freedom fighters and patriots.

Over these last few years we have with increasing frequency had to walk this route of paying final tributes and respects to members of that generation.

We come here this morning with our hearts heavy in mourning as we lay a wreath on the grave of one so special to that generation and to ourselves as Adelaide Tambo.

We mourn the passing away of a close personal friend, a comrade and one of the great heroines of our nation.

Adelaide Tambo was an exceptional person.

She was the life long partner, supporter, confidante and comrade of Oliver Tambo. Her caring support of OR, the warmth of her affection for him and her undying loyalty played no small role in the building of the ANC, particularly in that trying period of exile.

She was an activist and a freedom fighter in her own right. And she was a mother to the liberation movement in exile, and a nationally revered figure in our new nation. Hers was a life dedicated to freedom and service.

It is not usual in politics, and particularly in political conditions of deep conflict, for somebody to be revered and loved by all. Adelaide Tambo was such a person. She was held in affection by people from across the political spectrum in South Africa.

She exemplified and embodied all that was good and noble in our liberation struggle and in our dreams for our nation. She was a builder, not a destroyer. She brought together rather than divided. Her love for her country was all inclusive. She remained true to her calling as a nurse throughout her life as she pursued healing in personal, organisational and national relationships.

While we as a nation mourn her passing away, we can pay her no better tribute than to learn from her life and to rediscover and remain true to those values that guided her life.

Our deepest sympathies go to Thembi, Dali, Tselani and family. We mourn with you and share personally in your grief. We trust that you take some comfort in these times of great sorrow from the knowledge that many millions in our nation mourn with you, and that she is remembered in nations across the globe.

Our movement has lost a stalwart, one who represented that greatness of spirit that made it a great organisation .In these challenging times in the life of the organisation we are all called to return to those values that she represented and lived by. Her death may serve to remind all of us to strive for unity and to put the well-being of the organisation above all personal and sectarian considerations.

Let us this morning re-dedicate ourselves to making this country of ours the caring and decent society to which this great South African dedicated her entire life and for which she sacrificed so much.

Tsamaya hanhle Motaung wa Ramokhele !

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation