The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo
The late Oliver Reginald Tambo played a central role in the freedom struggle against apartheid, and dedicated his life to overthrowing the apartheid regime. He was known for his gentle character and compassionate qualities. His leadership of the struggle against apartheid, at an international level, galvanised world opinion against the apartheid regime. His benevolence and personal concern for the plight of freedom fighters and their conditions in the field endeared him to thousands of liberation fighters.
The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo is awarded in three categories to eminent foreign nationals for friendship shown to South Africa. It is therefore concerned primarily with matters of peace, cooperation, international solidarity and support and is integral to the execution of South Africa’s international and multilateral relations.
In the design of the main badge of this Order, the enveloping and watchful eye of the majola symbolises the active expression of solidarity and support for South Africa.
In African mythology, the majola (mole snake) visits babies in a spirit of benevolence. The snake comes as a friend and protector to prepare the baby for a successful and safe adult life. The mole snake can be aggressive and can give painful bites but is non-venomous. The majola’s visitation is seen as an active expression of solidarity and support, encouraging long-term success of the young and, by extension, the human race.
In the centre is a tomoye of four sections, inspired by the universal ying and yang that speak of a meeting point for diverse spiritual energies. This is enclosed by north and south pointers representing the relationship between countries of the north and countries of the south.
The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo comprises four elements:
- a neck badge (a gold, silver or bronze medallion on a neck band);
- a miniature (a miniature gold, silver or bronze medallion for wearing as a brooch or on the breast pocket);
- a lapel rosette (also in gold, silver or bronze);
- and a wooden ceremonial staff incorporating an entwined mole snake.
The stick, carved out of dark, indigenous wood, symbolises appreciation for the support and solidarity shown, and also a commitment to support and stand by the recipient in return.
The Supreme Companion of OR Tambo in gold is awarded to those who have actively promoted the interests and aspirations of South Africa through excellent cooperation and active expression of solidarity and support.
The Grand Companion of OR Tambo in silver is awarded to those who have actively promoted the interests and aspirations of South Africa through outstanding cooperation, solidarity and support.
The Companion of OR Tambo in bronze is awarded to those who have actively promoted the interests and aspirations of the Republic through cooperation, solidarity and support.