In 1942, Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo earned a BSc from Fort Hare University (whose students were external Unisa students). Unisa’s administration building is named after him.


Tambo was born into a deeply traditional family in the Eastern Cape. He excelled academically, and received a scholarship of £40 from Unisa in 1937, after he and another black student became the first “Africans” to win first-class passes in the Junior Certificate examination. After earning his BSc, Tambo began studying for a Higher Diploma in Education at Fort Hare, only to be expelled for his political activities. He and Mandela were among the founding members of the ANC Youth League, and the two opened the first black law practice in South Africa in 1952. Tambo became the ANC’s President in exile; he guided the movement from its low ebb in the 1960s through to its democratic victory in the 1990s. Although he did not live to see democracy in South Africa (he died a year before the 1994 elections), Tambo’s democratic legacy endures in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, both of which bear his extraordinary imprint.