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“Long Ride for Justice” - Namibia: The end of the second and final leg of Ben Freeth’s journey


Blog 10: Tuesday 19 March 2024


Reliving the journey, my thanks to the Namibians and thoughts on the way forward


Before this group starts to disband, I want to relive a little of yesterday’s ride to the outskirts of Windhoek, the walk from there to the SADC Tribunal building, the former seat of the SADC Tribunal court of justice, and the journey that I've been on. I would also like to share some thoughts regarding the way forward.


I've just been going through all the videos, pictures and comments, as well as everything else from yesterday, which I only looked at this morning. And it's incredible, isn't it, to relive a great day! I believe the 18th of March 2024 was a great day, and it started early.


I was sleeping out under the stars with my daughter, Anna, and it began at about 4:30am, with the rumble of thunder, which is quite unusual in this country. Normally the rain seems to be in the afternoon. Then the rain started to fall, so I woke up Anna and said, “I think this rain is coming,” and we went up to the house to find shelter.


And then the horses started to arrive a little later and we all saddled up and set off.

Getting the horses ready for an early start


And that rain was, I believe, God-given in these drought conditions. It also cooled everything off and the dust was settled. Later on we got some pretty heavy rain which it didn't soak us, but the river flowed back here in Brakwater, where we had crossed.

Riding to Windhoek


I’d like to go through what this was all for. And it inspired a lot of people. We had individuals who flew from the UK to ride, like Alex and Anna. We had people from South Africa, lots of them, some of whom drove all the way through to Windhoek, just to be here.

Johnny with me and Anna with Stardust, the second horse on my trek


We also had representatives of various organizations, notably Dr Theo de Jager from the Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI), and Barend Uys from AfriForum, the biggest civil rights movement in southern Africa. It was such a privilege to have these organizations participating. We were also privileged to have representatives of royal houses of the tribal chiefs in Zimbabwe and South Africa, who also want justice.


And other people came from Zimbabwe, such as Brian James who is an opposition MP. And from Zambia, Graham Rae, a former Zimbabwean commercial farmer, now farming very successfully up there, who joined us and it was great to have his supporting.


All of these people made such an effort to come to the event and were inspired by what this “Long Ride for Justice” was about and what it hoped to achieve.


And, of course, it was the people from Namibia who made such a huge effort to ensure that everything worked well and ran smoothly. They managed to find horses from all over the place to join the horse parade, even though it was a weekday, a work day! Some of the horses were brought great distances, from hundreds of kilometres away, in some cases travelling more than 500 to 600km to be with us, and then of course, they had to be taken all the way back again.

Our horse party with the Auas mountain backdrop


The Namibian coordinators also had to get police permission for all aspects of the event. Reporters came to cover the story and we were joined by Namibian lawyers, including Elize Angula, who represented us at the Mike Campbell case (Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd and 78 Others v the Government of Zimbabwe) in the SADC Tribunal back in 2007 and 2008 – it was great to have her with us. Elize is a past president of the Law Society of Namibia and was a member of the Judicial Service Commission.

Elize Angula


There was something about this initiative that inspired people and it wasn't me. Obviously Johnny, my remarkable borrowed horse, was very inspirational, but it was our belief, our common belief in what is right, and just and good. That is what inspires us.

Johnny, deep in thought


And the ride was for justice and righteousness, and people got behind it because of our common belief in righteousness being the foundation of justice. All the amazing Namibians who supported the initiative were there because of this belief and it’s been so wonderful to meet people of a common understanding that these are the set foundations required to have true justice in a nation and in the world.


And here we are, and we stand on those same foundations together, even though we don't know each other, or we didn't know each other before this journey. So many of you Namibians are now family after these last weeks!


Getting to know so many of you, staying in your homes and being part of your families, as well as having deep conversations together, has been a truly remarkable experience. And we have this common belief, this common destiny which we all understand and are inspired by.


With farmer Duppie du Plessis, Andrea and their daughter


For me, everything that happened yesterday was really amazing, and so I just want to thank each one of you for your belief, and ask that you hold onto that belief. We lost everything in the land invasions, just like so many other people. But we didn’t lose our belief. We cannot lose our belief. And it's our belief in a God who loves us, who has good plans for us, who is able to inspire us to do the good things that makes life something that is beautiful. Evil people can take away everything from us, but they cannot take away our belief. They cannot take away our God. They cannot take away what is important at the end of the day.


And so this is my overriding understanding of what happened yesterday and for those of you who were inspired to have this understanding and common belief.


At the end of yesterday it was very, very hard saying all the goodbyes. I also had to say goodbye to Johnny after our amazing journey together of about 520km.

Johnny relaxing after his memorable day


It was also very hard saying goodbye to all my new Namibian friends - I'm not going to mention names, you know who you are, but the tears flowed. I just thank each one of you for your part and support throughout this long ride - and for your belief in this initiative.


So where to from now? We will continue, you know, the ride hasn't ended. We will continue the ride figuratively. We will continue the ride to seek justice.

Approaching the SADC Tribunal building with flags from the region


There's been a lot of press coverage today and I'm doing more interviews on radio and with newspapers. AfriForum, SAAI and I are also having various diplomatic meetings, as are other organisations and individuals.


We all need to continue to strive, to fight for what is right and just and good. When things do go wrong - and I think in Zimbabwe we became complacent – it’s important to always keep this in mind.


So to all of you, wherever you are who followed this “Long Ride for Justice”, and I think there are twenty different countries on the WhatsApp group, people from all over the world, I just thank you all for your wonderful support, for your very special comments, for your encouragement and for your belief in what is right, what is just and what is good.

It’s going to be hard for me now, at the end of this 65-day trek which culminated in reaching the former seat of the SADC Tribunal yesterday the historic Turnhalle Building. I know there will be a temporary crash after all this, but I believe that the ride will continue.

On the steps of the former seat of the SADC Tribunal court of justice


But what a day the 18th of March was, and what a step into the future it is! Already the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has received the written memorandum with all the signatures. And the meetings will go on and we'll look for all avenues possible to build on the wave that you’ve all helped to create so that justice does prevail, and that people can go forward in peace in the future, with God at the centre.

I just want to finish with one aspect of yesterday that I think was for me such a significant element and I posted a photo of it on the WhatsApp group. It was of Elize Angula, our amazing lawyer who, as mentioned earlier, was part of our case at the SADC Tribunal back in 2007/2008, taping my prayer to the door of the SADC Tribunal building, which was the House of Justice for the 400 million citizens of southern Africa. And Elize said she would make sure that the prayer stayed on the door.


Barend Uys from AfriForum said it reminded him of Martin Luther’s action in 1517 when he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of a church at Wittenberg, Germany, condemning the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, known as the Proclamation.


Taping my prayer to the door with Elize Angula


But we were taping to the door a prayer that the SADC Tribunal would be reopened and that God would be the centre of the higher law and would be followed. I believe that that was a beautiful moment. The police had all left and everyone else had left, so we were able to do this.


Finally, I would like once again to thank you all, to thank God and to thank Johnny for carrying me here, as well as Stardust and “Nikao”, my borrowed mule, whose real name is Maringa, as well as my own horse, Tsedeq, who carried me across western Zimbabwe. You were great steeds, and will remain great steeds.


And we will continue on the ride, each one of us. Whether or not you actually rode horses, you still rode, figuratively speaking.


So thank you all. God bless you all. My apologies as this is quite a long message. But may God be with each one of you, and with you all.


Ben

Ben Freeth


Whatsapp: +44 7539 070 122

Mobile: +263 773 929 138 (Zimbabwe)


Ben Freeth is the executive director of the Mike Campbell Foundation and is based in Zimbabwe. The MCF is taking action to restore human rights, justice, the rule of law and property rights for all in Zimbabwe.

"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly

with your God." Micah 6:8


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