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Monday, July 2, 2012

Wendy Friedman obituary

my mum died at the beginning of the month June) and I am sending you the obit my brother wrote so that you can inform our friends in Harare.  She had been moved three weeks previously to the home who were really good about keeping us posted as to her condition and looking after her. My niece explained to me, she would not have wanted to be 'any trouble', and looking after her was getting to be more than my sister could do. We were all glad that we were able to attend her birthday and see her while she still knew us.

Wendy Friedman obituary

My mother, Wendy Friedman, who has died aged 90, campaigned against repressive regimes in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Wendy supported various opposition parties against Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front, mainly the multiracial Centre party. In 1966, she stood outside parliament in a three-woman demonstration (with her mother and sister-in-law) with a homemade placard demanding an end to press censorship. Thirty years later, she demonstrated against the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front regime on the same issue.
She was born Wendy Cunliffe in India, her mother having journeyed there from South Africa to be with her parents, because she was pregnant with triplets and was suffering from complications. Wendy was the last and smallest of the three. She was brought up in South Africa, where she attended Rhodes University. She left before completing her degree in order to make her contribution to the second world war effort by travelling to Cairo to be a radiographer. There, she met Tiger Friedman. She became pregnant and they married in 1945.
At the end of the war they settled back in South Africa, but the baby died in a tragic accident. Wendy and Tiger went on to have five more children. Tiger worked as a government pathologist while Wendy, between and during pregnancies, was an active member of Black Sash, the anti-apartheid movement run by white women. In 1957 they moved to Southern Rhodesia, believing it to be politically more enlightened, as South Africa declined into apartheid.
Wendy did unpaid work for a charity supporting black mentally handicapped children and their families. Having always been a shy person, lacking the confidence to speak in public, she joined the International Toastmistress Club, and went on to chair the Zimbabwe branch of the organisation and become a competent public speaker.
As the situation deteriorated in Zimbabwe in the 90s, so the campaigning re-started, with somewhat better success, in actually achieving representation for the Movement for Democratic Change in parliament. Wendy was no politician herself and never stood.
Tiger died in 1992, and Wendy finally left Zimbabwe in 2000 when the economic collapse made it impossible for her to continue there. She lived her last years in Johannesburg with her elder daughter.
She is survived by four of her children – me, Jim, Maggie and Viv – and seven grandchildren. Another son, David, predeceased her.

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