The postal services of Liberia, Gambia and Sierra Leone will simultaneously
issue a set of three commemorative postal sheets on Tuesday in memory of 12 Jews
– men and women – who fought Apartheid and racism in Africa.
struggle against South African Apartheid, according to one of the commemorative
sheets, it was estimated that Jews were overrepresented by 2,500 percent in
proportion to the governing white population.
“This stamp issue
acknowledges the extraordinary sacrifices made by Jews to the liberation of
their African brethren, and these stamps recognize some of the most significant
contributors to global humanity in the 20th century,” reads the text on one of
the commemorative sheets.
Each sheet presents four black-and-white photos
of stamps featuring the Jewish heroes. Details can be found at
The Liberian issue will show
Helen Suzman, Eli Weinberg, Esther Barsel and Hymie Barsel.
from Sierra Leone will display Yetta Barenblatt, Ray Alexander Simons, Baruch
Hirson and Norma Kitson. The Gambian sheet will present Ruth First, Hilda
Bernstein, Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein and Ronald Segal.
Gavronsky), the best known among them, was born in the South African mining town
of Germiston in 1917 to Samuel and Frieda Gavronsky, both immigrants from
Lithuania who had come to South Africa to escape the restrictions imposed on
She was raised in a financially unstable family and educated at a
convent. She later attended the University of the Witwatersrand and eventually
became one of South Africa’s most famous white parliamentarians and human rights
In 1959, 12 MPs, including Suzman, broke away from the United
Party and subsequently formed the Progressive Party, with an openly liberal
program of extending rights to all South Africans. As the sole voice of South
Africa’s oppressed in parliament, Suzman became known for her strong public
criticism of the governing National Party when this was unusual among white
She was called a “f***ing Jew” on the floor of parliament. She
remained in parliament for 36 years and retired in 1989, but remained actively
involved in South African politics. Suzman died peacefully in her sleep in 2009
at the age of 91.
Weinberg, born in 1908 in Latvia on the Baltic Sea,
experienced World War I and the October Revolution of 1917 as a child, leading
to his socialist political development. His mother, his sister and other members
of his family were murdered in a Nazi concentration camp. Weinberg was found
guilty of being a member of the Central Committee of the underground South
African Communist Party (SACP) and sentenced to five years’
Esther Barsel, born in Lithuania, was a South African
politician and long-standing member of the SACP. Her husband Hymie, a native of
Johannesburg, was raised in a Zionistoriented home. During the 1930s, he was
assaulted while taking part in demonstrations against the Blackshirt
Later, the couple was among 15 accused in the Bram Fischer
trial. She was sentenced to hard labor for three years.
born Ireland in 1913. A friend encouraged her to go to South Africa with the
promise of employment, and there she became a union organizer and rose in the
In 1956, she was arrested on charges of treason but
She was detained in Johannesburg during the 1960 State of
Emergency, along with 20 other white female detainees, and went on a hunger
strike for eight days.
Simons was born in Latvia.
While at school,
she displayed little fear in challenging authorities, and she later took up
politics.When she moved to South Africa, she was a labor activist and banned
from anti- Apartheid activity, but continued nevertheless.
South African native, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for his activism
and served the time in the Johannesburg Fort, Pretoria Local and Pretoria
Kitson worked with the Johannesburg underground printing
press of the ANC’s military wing and was exiled to London for her activities,
but she continued there, carrying out continuous picketing of the South African
embassy in Trafalgar Square.
First, born in South Africa, worked as a
journalist and specialized in reporting about horrible conditions of blacks on
potato farms, migrant labor, bus boycotts and slum conditions in the
Hilda and Lionel Bernstein were married in 1941. She was convicted
of sedition after assisting with a black mine workers’ illegal strike, while he
was arrested and charged together with Nelson Mandela, who later became
president of South Africa after Aartheid collapsed.
Segal, a self-styled
Socialist journalist, was a marked man, not helped by a speaking tour of US
campuses, where he argued with passion for an economic boycott of South Africa.