Sunday, October 29, 2017

#SouthAfrica to repatriate #ANC fighters buried in #Uganda - #Apartheid

The South African National Heritage Council has said it is considering relocating the remains of fallen freedom fighters buried in Uganda.

At least 14 African National Congress (ANC) freedom fighters who died in Uganda between 1990 and 1991 were buried in the current Oliver Reginald Tambo Leadership School in Kaweweta, Nakaseke district.

The 14 were part of the over 3,000 ANC fighters who sought refuge in Uganda from 1988 under the command of Oliver R Tambo, who was ANC president at the time. Many African states had rejected them for fear of reprisals from the apartheid regime in South Africa. 

Uganda collaborated with the fighters and trained them but also supported them with military equipment. Many ANC leaders including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, and Govan Mbeki among others were still in jail after they were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

Now some relatives of the deceased fighters are seeking to have the remains of their loved ones taken back home, stating that they cannot have their loved ones far away from them.

Sonwabile Mancotywa, the Chief Executive Officer of South Africa's National Heritage Council, told URN in an interview on Friday evening that they are now discussing the possibility of having some remains of the fallen soldiers repatriated. He says this will happen in other countries such as Russia and Tanzania.

He says as the body mandated to do this, if the process comes to a conclusion there still has to be a symbol for the memory of the deceased that will last forever. He however notes that while the bodies can be taken, the ties will remain.

He says as it stands, South Africa has a repatriation Policy, and this is being considered.

Mancotywa says this will ensure that both the laws of Uganda and of South Africa are respected.

According to Sonwabile, some remains of the deceased South African fighters were already exhumed from other countries and taken back home.

On becoming President in 1994, Nelson Mandela visited Uganda as a result of these links. This is because Uganda was instrumental in supporting the fighters at a time when they were battling inequality and white supremacy.

On Friday, the South African Government represented by its Ambassador to Uganda, retired Major General Solly Mollo honoured Oliver Reginald Tambo who commanded the camp in Kaweweta. The Uganda government was represented by Justice Minister Kahinda Otafire.

Born in October 1917, Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo was a South African anti-apartheid politician and revolutionary who served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1967 to 1991. A teacher and lawyer by training, Tambo kept the struggle for racial equality alive when most of his top ANC colleagues were jailed for almost three decades.

He himself went into exile where he lived for over 30 years, only returning to South Africa in December 1990 shortly after his colleagues were released. 

Tambo died in April 1993 aged 75 after he suffered a stroke. A year later, Mandela would become the first democratically elected president of South Africa.


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