Ben Freeth MBE, a dispossessed Zimbabwean commercial farmer, fell foul of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF government when he and his father-in-law, Mike Campbell, challenged the ageing dictator in a regional human rights court.
Freeth worked alongside Campbell, who had set up the highly successful Mount Carmel farming operation and wildlife conservancy, and was a major employer in the Chegutu district. Freeth’s wife generated further employment through a women’s hand embroidery project.
The violent government-initiated land grab, which began in 2000, was exacerbated by the relentless efforts of a senior Zanu PF member to take over Mount Carmel farm. This eventually drove Campbell and Freeth to take their case to the Southern African Development Community’s regional court, the SADC Tribunal, in 2007.
Together with 77 other dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers, they won their crucial landmark case the following year, capturing world headlines and intensifying the anger of the failed regime.
As a result, the harassment and victimisation of the Mount Carmel farm community escalated, culminating in the abduction and torture of Campbell, his wife Angela and Freeth in the wake of the shocking 2008 election violence.
Mike Campbell subsequently died as a result of the injuries he sustained but his legacy lives on through the Mike Campbell Foundation, a UK registered charity set up to promote justice within the SADC region.
Freeth was awarded the MBE in 2010 for services to the farming community in Zimbabwe.
The award winning documentary, Mugabe and the White African is based on their story.
Freeth is author of the book, Mugabe and the White African published in June 2011.
Dr John Sentamu
Dr John Sentamu, who was appointed Archbishop of York in June 2005, is the UK's first black archbishop.
Born in Uganda, Sentamu was encouraged by English missionaries and teachers to qualify as a barrister. He gained a law degree from Makere University, Kampala in 1971.
He was appointed a high court judge in Uganda but was forced to flee to Britain in 1974 after being involved in a case that resulted in the imprisonment of one of President Idi Amin’s cousins.
Sentamu read theology at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he gained a master's degree and doctorate, after which he trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.
Renowned for his outspokenness and missionary zeal, Sentamu is revered as a fearless leader who has criticised President Mugabe’s regime for its escalating human rights abuses and the deliberate withholding of food aid to opposition supporters.
In December 2007, he captured the world headlines by cutting up his dog collar during a BBC interview and announcing that he would not replace it until President Mugabe was out of office.
Dr Paul Negrut
An eminent clinical psychologist, Dr Paul Negrut is founder and president of the Emmanuel University of Oradea and Pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church.
Dr Negrut is revered internationally for his stand against the repressive communist regime in Romania, for which he endured repeated interrogations and constant threats to his life and that of his family.
To acknowledge his courageous contribution to the downfall of the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, he was honoured with the title of Knight – The Order of the Faithful Service, by the President of Romania in December 2000.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher honoured him with the “Torch of Freedom” award at the Conservative Party Conference, Bournemouth, in 1990.
Dr Negrut has a PhD in theology and is internationally recognized as one of the key Christian leaders in Europe. He has also spoken widely at churches and conventions in the United States.
The three speakers will be introduced by Kate Hoey MP. Hoey was a member of the first British Parliamentary delegation to Zimbabwe in 1990 and is chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe.
Tickets cost £15. The tickets are nearly all sold…. phone The Mike Campbell Foundation on 01795 842 341 or e-mail: [email protected]
A DVD will be made of the evening. Cost £10Post published in: Africa News