Adelaide Tambo, legendary women of our times in South Africa.


On the 18th of July 1929 a leader, a mother, a legend and a woman who would change the face of South Africa was born. Mam Adelaide Frances Tshukudu was a true community leader who cared for the people of South Africa and has helped pave a way for many women in leadership positions today.

She was a determined and brilliant woman who just at the tender age of 18 joined the ANC movement and it was not long after that she was selected to be the Chairperson of the George Goch branch of the ANC Youth league.
She started her professional career as a nurse in ... at Baragwaneth Hospital. Because she was also a revolutionist, together with other women she founded the Pan African Women's Organization (PAWO).

The Pan African Women's Organization was formed with the aim to Unite all African women organizations to allow an exchange of points of view and to undertake joint action; promote human rights with a view to eliminating any form of discrimination, irrespective of birth, race, religion or sex; support political, economic and social liberation of the African Continent in order to contribute to the progress of its peoples through a conscious, real and constant action; ensure full integration of women in economic and social development, so as to accelerate the promotion of African women so they can achieve full development; promote through friendship, understanding and cooperation an effective unity between African states; establish lasting relations of friendship and cooperation between women in Africa.

  •  She was married to South African struggle veteran Oliver Reginald Tambo.
    OR Tambo, along with Mandela and Walter Sisulu, were the founding members of the ANC Youth League in 1943.
    Adelade Tshukudu and Oliver Tambo met an Eastern Township branch of the ANC. He proposed to her in 1954 and it took him a good two years to get her to say yes.

    On August 9 1956 Adelaide with 20,000 other women took part in the women's march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria - then the seat of white government - in protest against the pass laws. That December, three weeks before their wedding was scheduled, 155 leading members of the ANC, including Oliver, were arrested and charged with treason. Fortunately, they were granted bail, and the wedding went ahead in December 1956, during the Treason Trial.

    Because Adelaide and Oliver Tambo were aware of the harsh political situation in South Africa at that time, they knew that both of them were likely to be arrested sometime and so they discussed their political involvement as well as having children. They decided that one would have to do full-time political work and the other would have to work part time and take full charge of all family matters, including giving support to the old people of both families which is what Mama Adelaide Tambo was loved for.

    They were blessed with three children. Dali, Thembi and Tselane Tambo. Mama Adelaide Frances Tambo lived the life of a legend throughout; she passed away at the age of 77 at her home in Johannesburg on the 31 of January 2007.
    Women like Mama Tambo will always be celebrated for her work and contribution. She founded an organization with her husband Oliver and Adelaide Tambo foundation. The aim of the foundation is to promote the values that they both stood for; which is to promote and protect a just, open inclusive and equitable society as well as to facilitate and engage in projects aimed at the specific empowerment, education and socio economic upliftment of women.