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Lars Nordbo

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

Lars Nordbo Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the struggle for liberation and recognition of his architectural skills that saw the building of dormitory blocks in Mazimbu, Tanzania, which housed African National Congress (ANC) exiles before being converted into a Tanzanian university.

Profile of Lars Nordbo

Lars Nordbo was born in Denmark. An architect by profession, Nordbo initially went to Tanzania in 1976 where he was placed at the Lutheran Junior Seminary just outside Morogoro. He worked in the construction sector as an architect and also responsible for acquiring building materials from Europe.

As his contract was about to end, a friend suggested that they visit Mazimbu where the ANC exiles were staying. In 1977 he met ANC exiles who lived in tents at Mazimbu just outside Morogoro and this meeting marked the beginning of his involvement with the lives of the ANC exiles in Tanzania. Nordbo was not pleased with the conditions under which the ANC exiles lived.

Together with the ANC leadership in Lusaka, Zambia, he initiated a fundraising campaign to help secure funding for the construction of proper habitable dormitory blocks. The project was led by ANC stalwart Dennis Oswald. Through his hard work and that of ANC exiles, the project was completed in 1979 and the lives of the exiles were markedly changed by the improvement in their residences. There was an array of dormitory blocks, a nursery, pig farm and a chicken farm.

Nordbo understood very well that while people needed shelter they also needed food for survival, hence the establishment of the farms. Before he was recalled to Denmark, Nordbo ensured that the Mazimbu project was maintained by overseeing the deployment of a caretaker for the Mazimbu complex. When South Africa eventually saw the dawn of democracy in the early 1990s, the Mazimbu complex was turned into Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College. Nordbo remains a genuine friend of South Africa and subscribe to the vision of friendship as embodied by Oliver Reginald Tambo.