Sikhahlel’u OR – A Tribute to Oliver Reginald Tambo at The State Theatre

Poet Wally Serote’s ode to OR Tambo adapted for stage!

Poet laureate and anti-apartheid struggle veteran Professor Mongane Wally Serote’s praise poem for the late struggle hero Oliver Reginald Tambo, Sikhahlel’u OR – A Tribute to Oliver Reginald Tambo, has been adapted into a stage play which will debut at The South African State Theatre (SAST) from 23 to 26 March 2023.

This work celebrating the life of OR Tambo will be directed by Ntshieng Mokgoro and Ntsika Ngxanga (The Soil) as the Music Director. The production stars actors Harriet Manamela (Skeem Sam), Thokozani Mthiyane and Thabo Ramaine.

Sikhahlel’u OR chronicles the life and times of O.R Tambo who served as president of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1967 to 1991. It follows Tambo from childhood in Mbizana, Eastern Cape, to the struggle, his role in the ANC and captures his vision for South Africa. The play also pays tribute to many others who participated in the struggle and some who paid for this liberation with their lives – A timeous reminder of the cost at which freedom came.

“This project is very close to my heart.”
says Director Ntshieng Mokgoro. “It is relevant and important that this piece happens now at a time when the people of South Africa and the country are out of joint. It feels like the people who fought for Democracy, like OR Tambo, Mandela, Lembede, Sisulu, Luthuli, all took a million steps forward while this new generation, us, instead of enjoying this Democracy and Freedom, have actually taken a million steps backwards. It is a reminder that as a people we have forgotten who we are and we have forgotten the core of why these people fought for this country; they fought for the liberation of their people – which has now been individualised; it is no longer about the people, but about the individual. Once people get to the top, they forget about the people on the ground.”

Presented by SAST in partnership with the National Poet Laureate Hub, Sikhahlel’u OR is an adaptation of the namesake poem by Prof. Serote, which received great acclaim from the literary circle after its publishing in 2019.

Former President Thabo Mbeki called it “An immensely creative work of love.”

After suffering complications following a stroke, Tambo died on April 24,1993 at the age of 75. His death came a year before the 1994 general election in which Nelson Mandela became President.

“This tribute and praise poem in Professor Wally Serote’s book reminds us and brings us closer to who OR Tambo was, as we never knew much about him. Only now do I understand the depth and love that he shared for this country, that he sacrificed so much for us.”
continues Mokgoro

“OR, if you were here in this time of history, what would you say what would you do?”
– asks Professor Mongane Wally Serote

Show Details:
Sibusiso Khwinana Theatre at The South African State Theatre (SAST)
23 to 26 March 2023
Tickets: R200
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