Freedom Charter scribe Beata Lipman dies

2016-12-09 16:07
Beata Lipman (Supplied)

Beata Lipman (Supplied)

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Johannesburg - Beata Lipman, who hand-wrote the original Freedom Charter, died at the age of 88 in Johannesburg on Thursday, her daughter Jane said.

Lipman had been unwell after being scalded by hot water.

She appeared to be having seizures, so her daughter rushed her to hospital, where she died.

Lipman is most famous for helping to write down the Freedom Charter - a document that sets out the aspirations of a democratic South Africa, and which was eventually woven into the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Jane Lipman on Friday described her mother as “tough and bright and determined and stubborn”, and way ahead of her time on feminism.

Born in 1928 in Germany, Lipman came to South Africa at a young age when her parents fled Nazi Germany.

Lipman’s time as a young girl was very traumatic, and she said she felt accepted in South Africa, Jane recalled.

'Women had to make tea and do all the writing'

Lipman attended Parktown Girls High School in Johannesburg and married the architect Alan Lipman.

The two anti-apartheid activists married in 1948 and had two children - Jane and Peter.

Jane said her mother was a feminist “way back then”, and juggled her job as a journalist with her activism and mothering.

She worked with Ruth First on a newspaper and the two were always changing the title of the publication to evade security police, Jane recalled.

She participated in the famous Women's March to the Union Buildings in 1956, and she and her husband were members of the SA Communist Party (SACP).

They left the SACP when Russia invaded Hungary, but Jane said that the party still summoned them to Durban to officially “fire” them over this.

Of her mother's contribution to the Freedom Charter, Jane said: “The men did all the talking and deciding and the women had to make all the tea and do all the writing.”

'She inspired me'

The couple left South Africa for the UK in 1963, when it became clear that they might be arrested by security forces.

There, Lipman became a print and television journalist, with an intense commitment to social justice.

She worked for the BBC's current affairs programme, made films for the BBC, worked on News Night, and wrote a book titled We Make Freedom.

On her return to South Africa, Lipman and Jane worked together on films and documentaries.

“She inspired me,” added Jane.

Lipman will be cremated in a private ceremony on Friday. A memorial service is expected to be held in January.

Read more on:    freedom charter

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