Arts, Culture & Heritage

The Colossus

Last Updated: September 26, 2023
Artist

Martin Fourie

A Brief History

The artwork is intended to commemorate and celebrate the great legacy of ANC leader Oliver Reginald Tambo.

Around the 1950’s, Tambo was an important presence in downtown Johannesburg, with offices at Chancellor House in Fox Street. In later years, as represented by this artwork, he went on to occupy the international stage as an international ambassador of the anti-apartheid movement. Following the Sharpeville massacre in 1961, Tambo embarked on a ‘Mission in Exile’ in order to gain support for the South African liberation movement.

In 1967, O.R. Tambo became the acting President of the ANC, following the death of Chief Albert Luthuli. By 1985, he was re-elected President of the ANC. He returned to South Africa in 1990 after 30 years in exile.

The monument was unveiled by the Executive Mayor Clr. Parks Tau on 7 June 2016.

The artwork was created by artist Martin Fourie, and commissioned for the City of Johannesburg by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) together with the Department of Community Development.

Description

Angled concrete plates are set in the profile of the continents on the world map supported on face-brick plinths. The portrait of Oliver Tambo is set over the continent of Africa. A speech by former president Nelson Mandela is printed and set on a steel plate over the profile of the Australian continent. The artwork text and portrait of OR Tambo are inset 10mm into the concrete and stained using blue, red and purple Cemcrete stains.

Bench seating, constructed from face brick with a concrete slab top, is arranged on a circular arc around the artwork. The area around the continents is paved with brick pavers which complement the face-brick plinths.

The work stands in honour of Oliver Reginald Tambo (1917 – 1993), who led the ANC in exile.

The artwork also reminds us of the many international figures, countries, cities and communities who contributed to the international boycott movement, which resulted in the apartheid regime becoming progressively isolated and weakened.

Artwork Signage

The artwork is intended to commemorate and celebrate the great legacy of ANC leader Oliver Reginald Tambo.

Around the 1950’s, Tambo was an important presence in downtown Johannesburg, with offices at Chancellor House in Fox Street. In later years, as represented by this artwork, he went on to occupy the international stage as an international ambassador of the anti-apartheid movement. Following the Sharpeville massacre in 1961, Tambo embarked on a ‘Mission in Exile’ in order to gain support for the South African liberation movement.

In 1967, O.R. Tambo became the acting President of the ANC, following the death of Chief Albert Luthuli. By 1985, he was re-elected President of the ANC. He returned to South Africa in 1990 after 30 years in exile.

The monument was unveiled by the Executive Mayor Clr. Parks Tau on 7 June 2016.

The artwork was created by artist Martin Fourie, and commissioned for the City of Johannesburg by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) together with the Department of Community Development.

Location & Address

59-63 Helen Joseph St, Johannesburg, 2000