Open letter to Benjamin Freeth


I CANNOT even begin to imagine what it feels like to have your house burn to the ground.
To see right before your eyes, memories, mementos, souvenirs, belongings and your history, reduced to nothing, but ashes.
Having never owned an animal in my life, all I can do is try and look inside myself as I wonder what it would feel like, to have a beloved dog and cat perish in those flames.
I have to dig deep, as I try to conjure the probable feelings that could be brought by such a tragic scenario.
I imagine the helplessness, fear, pain, heartbreak, sadness and despair I would feel.
Having built the house with my own hands, I would probably just breakdown and cry, or lie down, curl up like a foetus, and die!
Help me to imagine this, for I cannot bear it alone.
The tragedy doesn’t end there.
Imagine this was no accident; it was caused by a bunch of ‘terrorists’ who just woke up one day and decided to lay a claim on your land, your home animals and on you, simply because you have the ‘wrong coloured skin’.
Try and picture these ‘thugs’ beating you to a pulp and telling you that you were no longer welcome in your own home.
If they let you live, you would probably take your family, flee and look for a new home.
Unfortunately, the affliction does not end there.
Envision this; after being chased from the fertile plain of central Zimbabwe, you are forced to return as a servant to your nemesis.
Picture yourself having to toil in the fields day after day in the scorching heat.
Think of how it would feel to have to kneel before your nemesis and call him master.
Envisage your wife tending to the needs of your nemesis, cleaning her feet, cooking for them and raising their children in the house they rebuilt on the exact spot your home used to be.
I wonder how it would feel to see the daughter and son of your nemesis getting married on your land and getting your father’s land next door as a wedding present.
Imagine your land producing 1 200 tonnes of mangoes and oranges, year-in-year-out, only for you to receive a ‘decent’ salary from the proceeds.
Imagine watching your nemesis use the proceeds from your land to build a beautiful house for himself, complete with a gazebo and a swimming pool.
As you play melancholy tunes on your mbira, imagine hearing their three kids laughing while your nemesis plays buoyant notes on his piano and his wife picks flowers from her ‘English garden’; as your children roll about in the mud outside the shack they call staff accommodation.
Conceptualise this cycle of servitude going on for years and this being the fate of generation-after-generation of your families.
You would probably one day snap and say enough is enough!, prompting you to join others in the same boat and fight to get your land back.
The anger and pain would most likely push you to fight until you win the war of liberation, probably losing spouses, children and friends in the process.
Picture winning that war, imagine the jubilation, the celebrations and the wave of euphoria across the nation.
I can see in the mind’s eye, people dancing with reckless abandon, women weeping uncontrollably and babies wailing in confusion!
I sense the hope that must have filled the hearts of all the men, women and children of your land.
I am sure they felt this was the beginning of all things good, just and beautiful.
They probably imagined themselves back on their land, free from their so-called masters and finally humanised again.
My mind cannot quite conceive their disappointment when they found themselves back on the farms, back in the suburbs, still as servants and not as the landowners as they had fought to be.
Imagine toiling for a further 20 years, the hope of ever reclaiming your land dwindling with each sinking moon.
Until one day, a new group of defenders of your birthright springs from the ashes and fights for your land.
I imagine them warning your nemesis to get off your land.
I picture them pleading with him for months, threatening him and finally ordering him to leave; only for him to proclaim to the world that he is not leaving his land (your land).
I picture the warriors losing their tempers, descending upon him, burning down the farm and driving his tractor around in manic frenzy.
In my mind I envisage your nemesis giving up, apologising for all the atrocities perpetrated on you and your people.
I would expect him to finally break down, see reason and be overcome by remorse.
I think you would even start to entertain the idea of forgiving him.
Naïve as you are, you would probably consider working with him at some point, for the simple reason that over the years of enjoying ‘the spoils of war’, the thief had obviously grasped the art of farming.
Imagine my shock, if one day I wake up to find your story being paraded as his story…
Visualise my shock as I read these words…
My name is Benjamin Freeth, a Kent-born, ‘Zimbabwean’ white farmer, son in law to Mike Campbell, notorious for being an apartheid sympathiser and a beneficiary of thousands of acres of land stolen from Zimbabweans, and Robert Gabriel Mugabe stole my farm!
Yours in solidarity,
Thandekile Moyo
(Thandekile Moyo has the same skin colour as Chinengundu Mashayamombe, veChikonamombe, who was not only dispossessed of his land in Chegutu (Hartley), but also murdered, beheaded and his head mummified into a trophy of conquest by British settlers.)


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