Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

RIP, Helen Suzman


Fearless South African patriot, Helen Suzman, has died at the age of 91. See the BBC report here. This is the tribute I wrote in November 2007 when she turned 90.

According to the New York Times, Suzman’s vigorous campaigning against apartheid “drew wide acknowledgment from academic institutions. Harvard, Columbia and Brandeis were among 26 South African and overseas universities that awarded her honorary doctorates. In Britain, Queen Elizabeth II made her an honorary Dame of the British Empire — the female equivalent of a knighthood in 1989. In 1997, Mr. Mandela bestowed on her one of South Africa’s highest civilian honors — the Order of Meritorious Service (Gold).”

Go well, Helen. You gave us hope in the dark days when we thought there was no hope at all.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

4 thoughts on “RIP, Helen Suzman

  1. An amazing woman who had the strength and conviction to speak out against the injustices in South Africa. May her legacy never be forgotten.

  2. Sad to hear of her demise. But so grateful for all she achieved while she lived!

  3. I clearly remember canvassing for the Progressive Party in 1968 when Helen was the only MP and we were desparate to get Colin Eglin into Parliament to support her. Frankly it was like beating my head against a brick wall. Nearly EVERYONE was so anti her, and so sneery…. I had the door slammed in my face time after time, we were laughed at, sworn at and threatened. Now of course most white South Africans claim they always admired and respected her – huh! what hypocrisy.
    People may say they agreed with her stand against apartheid, but there were few who would come out and do anything to help.

    She was the most indomitable, courageous woman I ever met.

  4. Well said. And it’s true what Herschellian says – now everybody was her best friend, but then she was just some deluded pinko liberal! She truly was a South African icon.

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