Resistance from a Distance

After being exiled with his family from South Africa to London in 1960, Oliver Tambo travelled to over 30 countries in 30 years on a “mission in exile.” He met with heads of state, gave numerous influential speeches and radio addresses, coordinated with other ANC organizers, and pushed for grassroots international solidarity by students, academics, unions, churches, and artists.


While Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and Winnie Mandela’s movements were tightly restricted, Tambo’s position in exile allowed him to extensively publicize the anti-apartheid message and shape public opinion. He bridged the national and international anti-apartheid movements, mobilizing both South Africans and allies with a strong vision of freedom and equality and clear calls to action. 


In 1990, Tambo and his family were able to return to a South Africa on the cusp of freedom from apartheid. The ban on the ANC was lifted, and before Tambo passed away in 1993 in Johannesburg, he reunited with Nelson Mandela.


Over 6 million Palestinians live outside Palestine in the diaspora. Many cannot even visit. Tambo’s story reminds us: where Palestinians go, so too go their stories and aspirations.

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