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



 Blog 6: Thursday 28 February 2024


Heading southwest in the Grootfontein area


Making progress through Namibia’s Grootfontein area


So to continue with my blog, it's absolutely amazing to have landed, as it were, among these incredible farming communities in Namibia where their hospitality is beyond anything that I could ever have imagined!

 

I was very apprehensive and trepidacious before heading through this section of Namibia, knowing that getting water was going to be very, very difficult, as there are no shops along the way. Also, there are fences along both sides of the road so that even if I did see water, I wouldn't be able to get to it with my horse.

 

Additionally, not knowing anyone or where farmers’ homesteads were, and not having the telephone numbers of any of the farmers along my route, I thought that this would be the hardest section of the whole journey.

 

Map of Namibia showing Grootfontein in the centre and Windhoek to the south

 

However, right from the word go, arriving in this commercial farming area and staying with people like Duppie du Plessis and his family has been an amazing experience. Night after night since then, this incredible Namibian hospitality has been extended to me and my horse, Stardust.

 

However, as we progressed further in the heat, I realised that Stardust needed a good rest and when a farmer saw me on the road with a horse that required resting, he came to the rescue and lent me his wonderful horse called Johnny.  I had to laugh at the name because “Johnny” is such an English name and this is such a strong and wonderful Afrikaans/German family.

 

The hospitality of Namibian farming families is truly exceptional!

 

The horse is actually called “Johnny Depp” because he’s only got one eye and in the film, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, Johnny Depp, who plays the main character, Captain Jack Sparrow, wears an eye patch. Traditionally in films and books, pirates wore an eye patch over one eye! And so Johnny Depp is my horse!

 

Johnny Depp, my “pirate” horse!

 

Later on, because Johnny and I were starting to move into some rocky ground, Sam, a local farrier, came out just before the full moon rose and, right there by the side of the road, he started re-shoeing Johnny. To come out in the night – and it was a Saturday night – was such an act of incredible act of generosity and giving, kindness and love.

 

     

Johnny (left) and Sam, the farrier, re-shoeing him by moonlight!

 

For Sam to come out with his paraplegic sister, who sat in the car next to us in the moonlight, was wonderful in itself, but for her to say after Sam had finished: “And we have decided that we are not going to charge anything to shoe this horse,” was just amazing!

 

From then on, Johnny and I have been passed from one family to the next along the road wherever we get to, which is an extension of this incredible hospitality where I'm being, fed, I have a bed to sleep in at night and I'm having showers!

 

And I thought that this section was going to be without a bed, with very, very little food, and that I wouldn’t be able to use water in any way, apart from for us just to drink in small amounts at a time. So it’s a remarkable blessing to be on this on this long road with the support of this exceptional community.

 

There are many uses of a hat along the road!

 

Yesterday a farmer walked with me for part of the way and he shared a few of his concerns regarding what I’m doing. He was concerned that the Namibian government would see this initiative as something unsettling for them.

 

I want to make it absolutely clear that this is nothing against the Namibian government. This is about the Zimbabwean government. This is about the SADC Tribunal. This is about justice for all people within the SADC region, and I know that the Namibian government has done well in protecting the rule of law.

 

These Namibian farmers would not still be on their farms if they hadn't, so it’s clear that the Namibian government has a good relationship with the farmers, and they understand the value of experienced, good farmers in Namibia. Furthermore, they see what happened in Zimbabwe when experienced, innovative farmers were forced off their land in violent ways thousands of times over. [Before the farm invasions started in 2000, there were about 4,500 commercial farmers working the land and agriculture was one of the key pillars of the economy.]

 

And so this is about justice within the region. It's about justice for the 389 million people of southern Africa. It's about justice for the dispossessed and it's about justice for the farm workers in Zimbabwe who are living in absolute poverty now.

 

This is about putting in place a system of justice where all people are equal citizens, whether they be senior politicians or the poorest people on the land, whether they be white people or black - we are all equal citizens, equal before the law, and able to work with our hands using the God-given gifts that we each have to create wealth for our families and for our nations. When justice fails, we are unable to do this. And so my “Long Ride for Justice” is about making sure people have the support they need.

 

A wonderful Namibian farmer has just driven up and has invited me to the next farm to have some breakfast with him! However, I need to keep moving, so I’ve declined his offer with thanks. But this is how it's gone, farm after farm, and so God is good.

 

To continue, if people are not protected and if their property is not protected, and if justice fails, the result is that countries fail and their people become poor and hungry, and that becomes a liability, not only to the region, but also to the world. We want to see Zimbabwe thrive. What we see in Namibia is a level of thriving that we once knew, and we want to ensure that this can be the case once more in Zimbabwe.

 

So, in solidarity with that cause, and with the suffering of the Zimbabwean people, and in view of the oppression that has taken place throughout the country, we would like to extend the following invitation to Namibian farmers and Namibian people of all different walks of life who understand the importance of justice and the importance of reopening the SADC Tribunal as it should be for all citizens.

 

We invite people on Monday 18 March 2024 to come into Windhoek with me and my horse, and if possible to bring their own horses.

 

It would make an incredible statement if many people rode their horses into town to the Turnhalle Building, which housed the SADC Tribunal, in a peaceful and ordered way, to call for the reopening of the SADC Tribunal court of justice and access for all the 389 million citizens of the region.

 

The SADC Tribunal building in Windhoek.

The Tribunal was closed down at the instigation of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 2012.


We need people to endorse our plea for justice in Zimbabwe, so that people will be able to thrive and realise their God-given potential, with the protection of themselves and their property rights.

 

Ultimately, it is my belief that these are the fundamental roles of a government: that a government should be there to protect the people and to protect their property. And if this is ensured, then everything else flows out from that.

 

Then we will see Africa thrive, and we will see our rich continent become a powerhouse within the world!

 

So this is my invitation, and this is my plea. Please come and join me on Monday 18 March. We will send out details regarding the arrangements as soon as we can.

 

We are seeking the necessary police and municipal permission to be able to organise an orderly “Ride for Justice” on our horses into Windhoek and to the SADC Tribunal building, with a police escort.

 

It would be fantastic to have people of all different backgrounds there. And what would move my heart would be to have the youth there, the children, the people who are the future, riding into Windhoek with us – it’s something that they will carry in their hearts and never forget!

 

Arriving in Grootfontein, Johnny and I were welcomed by a wonderful group on horseback

 

A few days ago I was very moved coming into Grootfontein when I was met by a large group of horsemen, women and children. One of them was a little six-year-old girl on a horse as big as my horse!

 

The next day, after the farrier had put new shoes on Johnny Depp’s back hooves (free of charge, thanks again Sam!), this little girl, along with a lot of other children, rode out with me from Grootfontein for about 20 kilometres!

 

My remarkable escort from Grootfontein and (right) the six-year-old “trek leader”

 

They eventually turned around and rode all the all the way back again, in the heat! This was something I think was really powerful and amazing, that these children should be part of this ride for justice. It certainly moved my heart in a very deep way. So I thank God for the children. I thank God for the future. I thank God for hope. I thank God that justice will come.

 

So please, if you have a horse, and you believe in what I believe in, then I would appreciate your trailering your horse to just north of Windhoek and we will set out for the last 17 kilometres early on the morning of Monday 18 March to complete this “Long Ride for Justice “.

 

My sincere thanks to you all, and may justice prevail. God bless you all. 

 

To read the introduction and objectives of my “Long Ride for Justice”, click HERE  


Warmest wishes, I’ll keep you posted.

 

Ben

Ben Freeth

Whatsapp: +44 7539 070 122 – limited mobile phone signal in parts of Namibia

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.



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1 commentaire


Invité
06 mars

Ben, this is tremendous. March 18 is my birthday. Praying for you.

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