Go well Groeblinghoff

Barbara Groeblinghoff (left) pictured alongside members of a partner organisation in Zimbabwe, including FNF Zimbabwe project manager Fungisai Sithole and the deputy chair of the board of directors at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.

A LARGE heart, a razor-sharp mind and exceptional professional expertise - few people combine all these qualities. Barbara Groeblinghoff was one of them.

On Friday April 19, in her adopted home of South Africa, Barbara lost her battle with cancer at the age of 61.

She had an encyclopaedic knowledge of global affairs, but she was primarily characterised by her deep humanity and astute judgement.

Quick-witted, she could sometimes be a polarising force. Barbara always had an eye for what ultimately mattered, and expected total commitment from her teams.

A liberal stalwart dedicated to the fight for justice

Having grown up in idyllic Werne in Germany, Barbara was driven to South Africa by her liberal sense of freedom and independence.

There she studied politics (BA), law (LLB) and development management (MA).

Barbara Groeblinghoff loved South Africa and its people.

She initially worked as a lawyer in Namibia and South Africa before joining the Friedrich Naumann Foundation as project director for South Africa and Zimbabwe on February 15 1995; from 2005 to 2017 she also spearheaded the Foundation’s work in Tanzania and Kenya.

It was Barbara’s vocation to work with political parties, and strategy workshops and training sessions for elected officials benefited from her consummate leadership.

As a trained lawyer, Barbara followed human-rights and rule-of-law issues closely.

Over two-and-a-half years, she provided comment and analysis for FNF on the Zimbabwean show trial of internationally renowned writer and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga; this involved numerous brilliant interviews in international media.

Groeblinghoff was unrivalled in her ability as an expert to present complex political, social and economic issues clearly and succinctly.

Her presentations on the history, society and politics of southern Africa, which she customarily gave in front of a large map of the continent at the entrance to the Foundation’s Johannesburg office, were a must for every visiting delegation.

Above all, FNF colleagues will remember Barbara for her empathy and loyalty. She had a boundless capacity for compassion, and the advancement of talented women was a major concern for her.

A down-to-earth, no-nonsense manner and a strong sense of justice characterised her both professionally and personally.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has lost one of its most distinguished and committed staff members. Our thoughts are with her family.

We mourn her loss. She will not be forgotten. 

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