But Ben's family fought back. Appealing to international law, they instigated a suit against Mugabe's government in the SADC, the Southern African equivalent of NATO. The case was deferred time and again while Mugabe's men pulled strings. But after Freeth and his parents-in-law were abducted and beaten within inches of death in 2008, the SADC deemed any further delay to be an obstruction of justice. The case was heard, and was successful on all counts.
But the story doesn't end there. In 2009 the family farm was burned to the ground. The fight for justice in Zimbabwe is far from over--this book is for anyone who wants to see into the heart of one of today's hardest places and how human dignity flourishes even in the most adverse circumstances. Read the press release for more information.
The PBS debut of Mugabe and the White African, the award-winning documentary of the same name, was on July 26th. Watch now at PBS.
My Thoughts: This book is a must read. I found it almost unbelievable that this true story of evil dictatorship is something that is going on right now.
While I sit in my house with no fear of it being illegally seized by thugs who have the full support of a corrupt police force and government, there are others that do not have the same luxury.
Despite owning their land for decades, investing their energy, time, heart and soul into farming this beautiful land and returning animals to their rightful homes - these dedicated farmers live daily in fear for their homes, possessions and very lives because they are white.
President Mugabe, voted in by the people (under threats of death should they fail to do so), said "The only language that the mabhunu (racist term for white farmer) will understand is the language of the gun. The more you kill the nearer you get to your objective.... I am still the Hitler of our time. This Hitler has only one objective - justice for his own people, sovereignty for his own people, recognition of the independence of his people and their right to their own resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Then times Hitler, that is what we stand for."
But this time, Hitler was a black African cleansing his country of white Africans. In a short 4 years, 85% of white farmers fled in fear for their lives or were forcibly removed from the farms they had worked for decades, and in the past 10-15 years, Mugabe has all but succeeded in removing the white man from his country of Zimbabwe.
But a few chose to stay, determined to take a stand against evil. Ben Freeth and his father-in-law Mike Campbell decided to fight the corrupt government head on and took President Mugabe to court. Because, as the tagline for the documentary says "If good men do nothing, evil will prevail." Their courage in the midst of such hopelessness and fear is inspiring. Their willingness to continue to fight, even after enduring vicious beatings themselves, is incredibly moving.
This is a spiritual battle. From the book...
Why are there so many hungry people in a continent where there is the potential, over much of it, to get double the annual grain yields per hectare of the best farms in Europe? A continent that has more agricultural land, more mineral wealth and natural resources than any other? A continent where, only half a century ago, before "liberation", there were food surpluses and almost every country was self-sufficient in grain?I came to the conclusion that the answer is simple. Every country, every institution, every enterprise is made up of individuals. And it's the individuals within each business, or organization, or government, or country that make them tick - or stop ticking. The problem in Africa lies with individuals and, more specifically, the spiritual forces within or behind those individuals.......The reason that African is hungry is not because of physical factors; there is absolutely no physical reason why Africa should be hungry. Africa is hungry because of the covenant with death and the web of lies in which it has encased itself. Where there are lies, there is no reason, no logic, no justice, no God, and no goodness. Without faith, it's easy to get ensnared in the tangle of lies. It's also very easy to compromise one's principles out of fear.
And Mugabe rules by fear.
Even after Ben and Mike's landmark victory in the courts, Mugabe and his henchmen continued their reign of terror, as both Mike and Ben's homes were burned, looted and destroyed and Mike eventually succumbed to the injuries he received at the hands of Mugabe's thugs.
There is yet to be a happy ending to this story, but the Freeths have not given up hope.
And it is not an unrealistic hope.
Botswana was the third poorest country in Africa at independence in 1966. But under the servant leadership of President Khama, a dedicated Christian, who was committed to upholding the rule of law, property rights and maintaining sound fiscal policy this country has thrived. Proper leadership created development and wealth in this desert country and Botswana is now the second richest country in Africa in terms of per capita income and is one of the two most competitive nations in Africa.
And so Ben and his family continue to hope.
Only when the miracle occurs and hope is rekindled by people whose hearts are brave enough to face the oppressor and throw off the yoke of oppression will transformation take place.