Imbawula: Tambo Lives! was awash with firsts, as four storytellers – picked for their proximity to the late struggle stalwart Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo, or for work that mirrors his values – delved into anecdotes, lessons and reflections about life, the Tambo way.
Hosted at The Market Theatre’s intimate Mannie Manim stage, this was the first show at this kind of venue, the habitat usually being hospitality and event spaces. It was also the first time Oliver Tambo (or any political figure for that matter) was a thematic focus, with the first ever politician (Minister Ayanda Dlodlo) on stage.
Minister Dlodlo weaved together personal recollections of hers and some of O.R.’s most trusted soldiers interactions with a leader brimming of wisdom, humanity and discipline. She spoke of his selflessness and commitment to his Umkhonto We Sizwe soldiers, from the greenest recruit to the bravest operatives.
Ms Pilane’s reflective take on the O.R. Tambo legacy spoke to the heroes in her life, her own OR’s: her mother and father, who sacrificed and dedicated so much of their beings to their children, in a way that espoused the values we associate with Tambo.
Mr Ikalafeng, an habitual traveler on the continent, took us his years long African pilgrimage, one that has seen him travel to every single country on the continent. His tales were at once optimistic and filled with panache, as it was funny and at times hairy, the theme of Pan Africanism and South Africa’s connection to our kin on the continent the golden thread.
Ms Sangweni-Siddo, only a child when O.R. would arrive deep in the night at her home in Zambia, told of the excitement that would engulf her household when ‘Uncle O.R.’ was in town. She experienced his warm hugs and observed from afar how meticulous he was, as his cadres (including ex-President Thabo Mbeki) crafted draft after draft of a speech he was to deliver. She was perhaps the night’s biggest and most wonderful surprise, as the COO of the City Lodge sang, chanted, used sound effects and props taking us deep into her childhood Zambia.
Mr Greg Maloka, Kaya FM Managing Director and big O.R. fan – the first guest MC in 5 years, a duty usually reserved for Founder Mr Siphiwe Mpye – did a sterling job steering the audience from one story to the next with his usual mix of substance and humour. The resident artist – Singer/Songwriter Melo B. Jones – opened with an acapella version of Miriam Makeba’s “To those we love (Nongqongqo)” and closed with her popular original track, “Black girl magic”.
The 150 plus people present – including the inimitable actor and Market Theatre institution Mr John Kani – experienced a rare glimpse into Imbawula’s knack for unearthing new stories that were right under our noses stories, and an intimate look into the life of a remarkable human being.
Imbawula: Tambo Lives! is a collaboration between the Imbawula Organisation and the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, supported by Kaya FM, who, as a side note, committed R102m airtime to the Foundation, to mark 102 years of O.R. Tambo.
All Photographs by Mr Siyabonga Mkhasibe