Sunday, November 8, 2009
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Oliver Reginald Tambo was president of the ANC from 1967 to 1991. He kept the black nationalist organization together from a home base in Lusaka, Zambia, after being banned by the South African government in 1960. Thanks to Tambo's ability to attract powerful young activists to the cause — including Thabo Mbeki — the ANC transformed itself into the voice for black South Africans under apartheid.
In the 1980s, Tambo asked Michael Young to help him "build a bridge" between the apartheid government and the ANC. Mbeki, who became his second-in-command, attended the secret talks organized by Young, reporting back to Tambo. As work toward a negotiations continued, Tambo suffered a stroke and underwent extensive medical treatment.
Tambo returned to his homeland in 1991 and was elected national chairman of the ANC and chair of its emancipation commission. He suffered another stroke and died in 1993. One year later, South Africa held its first democratic elections with people of all races being able to vote.