Photo: LoBaido ties final ribbon after 176-mile walk.
By Anthony C. LoBaido
Posted: August 21, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
Editor's note: Last July and August, long-time WorldNetDaily contributor Anthony C. LoBaido walked 176 miles in 12 days through an extreme European heat wave in an effort to raise awareness for the persecution of South Africa's farmers. This is his report on that special journey.
Ad Astra per Aspera
"A rough road leads to the stars."
The mission: to walk 176 miles in 12 days across the entire length of England while putting up 1,450 yellow ribbons for each of the South African farmers murdered between 1994 and 2003.
(By August of 2004 the farm murder total had reached 1,600 plus. It's hard to keep up with the ethnic cleansing of the white Boer-Afrikaner farmer at the dawn of the 21st century.)
Why the UK? Well, early in 2003, the British government sent their minister, a certain gentleman named Mr. Jack Straw, to South Africa with a 30 million pound sterling check to the ANC, part of which was outrageously used for "land reform and justice." They call it "justice." I call the farm killings "genocide" – and I was not the only one.
The walk itself was a hell that I had only imagined, yet could not fully comprehend, even today. Pain purifies. The answer to pain is prayer. As I walked as never before, I prayed as never before. I concentrated with each step as though walking on hot coals. Water. Food. Pain. Accomplishing the mission. Those words became my life. I actually became those things.
I had another reason for doing the walk. That was the South African ex-pat Malcolm Wren. The walk was Mr. Wren's idea. It was an honor to be allowed to walk with him. I just didn't think it was fair for him to have to walk all that way totally alone.
Mr. Wren reminds me so much of my father. He loves his wife and children. He never once mentioned another woman or looked at one during the walk. He prays. He is big, strong and rugged, yet he has a heart of gold. Really, he is just a big teddy bear. I told Malcolm that he was a hero. He denied this, but it's so true. We went through pure hell on this walk. There was no better man to triumph over hell with than Mr. Wren.
Malcolm's wife, Debbie, was a devoted helper on the walk. She tried to organize media coverage. She wrote to Prince Charles about the farm killings. Malcolm's sons also pitched in. There was Martin, who is in the British army, as well as Chaldon and Mark.
The character of Malcolm's daughter, Bonni, who is a future supermodel that I would describe as a blue-eyed Cindy Crawford, is also a testament to the parenting of Malcolm and Debbie. These children are good. The reason they are good is because Malcolm and Debbie's goodness is in them; just as I would like to believe that the goodness of my parents is in me.
I did the walk as a logical progression in my long-standing involvement with South Africa's farmers and their struggle for freedom from the forces that wish to destroy the nation. I have been working for the cause of the Boer-Afrikaner since 1991, for 12 long years, just as Nehemiah did rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
On Day 1 of the walk we left Avonmouth, on the extreme west of England. There were row houses which reminded me of Queens, N.Y., where my parents had grown up. There were high cliffs around us. I thought of the Arizona Strip between Utah and Nevada, the most expensive stretch of road ever built. The sky was high and blue. The clouds were puffy and floating past without a care.
I said to myself, "This is the beginning of a great adventure." I thought of the characters in "The Stand" walking across Utah to meet the Devil himself for a showdown in Las Vegas. I thought of their names: Larry Underwood, Tom Cullen, Stu Redman and Ralph. They are characters who have always stayed close to my heart. Debbie Wren was busy reading "The Stand," and that made the connection seem even stronger.
Before I left Cape Town, people asked me: "Anthony, aren't you going to train for this walk?"
I replied, "No. How? If I walk now, that is just wasting miles. I have to save my bullets. I will be able to 'turn it on when I need to.'"
But I was wrong. I wasn't able to just "turn it on." During the first two miles while carrying 70 pounds on my back, I thought, "I can't do this; this is not doable." I felt that if I could not make it through the walk I'd be letting down the old SADF special forces personnel. I would rather have eaten worms than let that happen.
Photo: LoBaido in demolition training with British army.
However, two hours later I was a soldier again. I remembered marching through the river valleys of Laos, Cambodia, Belize, The Himalayas, Tikal, Petra, Angkor Wat, Jerash and the British army jungle training.
We walked past the British Commonwealth and History Museum in Bristol. We stopped for refreshment. We walked and walked and walked. We stopped and ate Boerevorst that we'd saved from breakfast to make sandwiches. We ate Doritos and cashew nuts. We drank lots of water, but water was to become a problem.
I was sunburned and it felt good to be sweating again.
We slept at an upscale inn that first night. It was across the street from one of the old Knights Templar halls. I was exhausted that first night. Malcolm stayed up and had a whiskey in the hotel bar. I went straight to bed. I fell asleep with my hands folded on my pillow. I woke up that night to use the bathroom and I was so stiff I could hardly walk.
Day 2 of the walk came upon us with the dawn. This was perhaps the best day of the walk, and it was on this day that I witnessed one of the most amazing sights of my life.
We had gone 13 miles the first day. Already, I had huge blisters. I was going to have to get rid of my Timberland boots.
After breakfast and tea we set out again. My pack felt heavy. I vowed to dump off at least 30 percent of the weight and add more space for water. I drank lots of water that morning and ate two candy bars. We ate a lot of candy bars for energy, Snickers mostly.
We walked and took a break at a lovely park. We put up ribbons every 150 meters or so.
We were warned about Tog Hill, a very long stretch of road that climbed at a 45 degree angle.
Tog Hill was everything we were warned about and then some. It was a long, long walk for many miles. It was exhausting, yet for the first time I began to sing. It was a song I often sang since my parents passed away.
I got a mother in that land.
I got a father in that land.
I got a mother in that land … where I'm bound.
We'll all be together in that land.
We'll all be together in that land.
We'll all be together in that land … where I'm bound.
So come and go with me to that land.
Come and go with me to that land.
Come and go with me to that land … where I'm bound.
The hill was longer than I imagined. My feet were beginning to bleed from the blisters.
People sometimes ask me, "What did you think about during the walk?"
I thought of the music in "Le Femme Nikita," when Josephine is walking toward the bricked-up window on her first "assignment." I thought of the music in the attack scenes in "The Thin Red Line." While thinking of the latter, I composed my own prayer.
I called it "The Prayer of Tog Hill."
Lord, You're my high tower.
You're my wall.
You're the horn of my salvation.
You're my ever-constant companion.
You're my Citadel.
You are the surgeon of my broken heart.
You're my tears of joy.
You're where the twilight greets the day.
You're where the night steals the sun.
You're the glitter of the Milky Way and the stars of the Kalahari.
You're the sound of children's laughter.
You're the moral conscience of a good soldier.
You're the sweat of hard work.
You're the smile to a sad stranger.
You're the inner voice of what's right.
You're my mother's hug.
You're my father's goodness.
You're victory against all odds.
You're the terror feared by all wicked men.
You watched over me in the jungles of Asia and Central America.
Your eye was upon me in the Himalayas.
Your angels surrounded me in the Kalahari.
You're my quest.
You're Thee Quest.
You're my adventure guide.
You're my future.
You're my destiny.
Finally, I reached the top of the hill. There was a sign nearby pointing the way to the Roman Baths, which were ancient. They were known as "Aquae Sulis" back when London was merely a village called "Londinium." The expeditionary Roman SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) legionnaires and their mercenaries took Aquincum, Armenia, Zela, Dacia, Saudi Arabia, the Sahara and Cadiz. They conquered Ilium, Leptis Magna, Aelia Capitolina and Ctesiphon – but never Scotland. The Romans conquered Britannia, but were stopped eventually by the Scots and Scotland's rain, hills and mud. I suppose that Hadrian's Wall and the film "The Englishman Who Went up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain" are testaments to the spirit of the Scottish people and the Welsh.
Now I was standing at crossroads between the towns of Bristol, Stroud and Bath. There were three-foot high walls of stone all around the farmland, demarcating property. All around me were violets, fields of flowers and seemingly endless fields of wheat. I saw crops of green and gold as far as the eye could see. It appeared that some of the wheat had been rolled into gigantic spools that dwarfed human comprehension.
Mesmerized, I walked toward them. I climbed through barbed wire and thought of the 26,000 Boer women and children who died of disease and starvation in the British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War. I was standing in a field with two white stallions. The weather was turning against us now. In the distance, dark, black and ominous clouds were closing in. Lightning flashed silently again and again on the horizon. An electrical storm contains more energy than an atomic bomb. I thought of the angel that had visited my old room as a little boy.
So there I was, standing in fields of green and gold. I was petting the horses. There was a dark sky, with silent lighting flashing just ahead. Then I heard a low roar coming closer from out of the distance. And then no less than nine Harrier jets flew over me in formation. Both stallions went up on their hind legs and snorted excitedly. The fighter jets were flying so low I could scarcely believe my eyes. They then broke off from formation, climbed and dispersed.
It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
On the Third Day, it began to rain. It was cold. I was soaked. I drank tea from a truck selling food. People driving by honked and gave us a "thumbs up" of approval. I thought of each ribbon that we put up as a person, and that made me sad.
I changed from my boots to my sneakers. I thought of my two favorite smells, those being freshly cut wood and freshly cut grass. I thought of cutting our lawn like the Anaheim Angels' baseball field with the checkerboard effect. I thought of my father and mother, and I cried.
By the Fourth Day, my feet were so badly blistered and bleeding that I spent at least two hours taping them up and changing bandages. In the afternoons, my feet would swell and I would have to take off my shoes and socks. On this day I could not get my shoes back on at all and had to walk barefoot. I got glass in my feet, and that made things even worse.
With every step, however, I grew harder mentally. I was at war with my own mind and its ability to overcome the pain I was in.
The fourth day was filled with many sights. Among them the crop circles so famous in the UK for supposed UFO landings. We passed the town of Cherhill where there was a famous obelisk and a white horse that was carved into the mountainside. It had been created in 1780 by Dr. Alsop of nearby Calne, who had shouted out instructions from a megaphone. The obelisk was called "Cleopatra's needle." The town of Cherhill has been continuously inhabited for over 4,000 years, so it was no surprise to me that it had an ancient feel as we passed through it.
The bugs began to follow us. My legs were cut up from walking through the high grass to put up ribbons. We were in a beautiful rural area of England and it took my breath away.
Also, on this day, we learned that Malcolm and I were mentioned on the national news in South Africa. Inspired by our walk, some South Africans had put up 1,450 white crosses on the N1 freeway in Pretoria. The ANC ordered them taken down immediately.
What a surprise. As we all well know, the ANC is truly rotten at the top, poisoned by the filth they drank in Moscow and Beijing. I know for a fact that one of the farm killers confessed to the police that he received his orders from the fourth floor of Shell House, the ANC headquarters. Another attacker got his gun from the new police force. Such facts are covered up by the powers that be. I thought of "Operation White Clean Up," meaning the rumor that on the night of Nelson Mandela's funeral, the blacks are supposedly going to kill all of the whites in South Africa.
Day 5 was a mix of sun and clouds. At one point, the wooded area we passed through reminded me of the Sherwood Forest. We met a boxer puppy named Leonard that morning and he was just too cute. Someone drove past us and threw a firecracker. That person kept on driving, and that was the smartest thing they'd ever done, I reckon.
That night we stayed at a guesthouse owned by a man who looked like David Letterman. We had an impromptu soiree and that was well-deserved fun.
Day 6 was the hardest day by far for me, and the turning point. Shin splints were a problem on this day (I developed polio in my right shinbone as a baby), and I thought I would have to finish the walk on crutches. I felt so horrible. What a nightmare. Still, I thought of the South African farmers and what they were suffering. Honestly, that notion made my own trials seem inconsequential. Yet still I had to go on and with each step it was now as though I was walking on hot coals. Willem Ratte, the legendary special-forces operator of South Africa's old 32 Batallion, later wrote me and called this "a noble sacrifice."
I went to lunch at this Irish pub and my bill was 6.66 pounds. It was called the Berkshire Arms. That day I was marching through RGBW territory, the unit I was with in Belize for the British army jungle-warfare training. That gave me a sense of comfort. They're stars.
Malcolm doubled back for me in a taxi the last two miles. I'd carried both of our packs one day when his shoulder was bothering him. Now it was time for him to repay that. So Malcolm walked two extra miles back again to the hotel with me. I was in tears for most of the last two miles. I really don't know how I made it as I was in so much pain.
I went to bed that night praying that I could continue on with the walk. I prayed hard and asked to Lord to give me strength. I said, "Please Lord, I don't want to let Malcolm down. I don't want to let the farmers down."
Much to my great surprise on the morning of the Seventh Day the pain in my right shin was totally gone. It was like a miracle had taken place. Malcolm's wife, Debbie, and his son Mark walked with us on this day. We set in an exhausting pace. We walked through the town of Reading and it was as if England had been completely colonized by the Third World. This was not rural England any longer. In fact, this was not England at all.
I met a nice man from Nigeria who gave me a bottle of water. I met another man, a Muslim, who spoke of how afraid he was of the post-Christian, pagan culture in the UK. Specifically, he talked about the pornography, drugs, abortion and other social ills. Later I met a Hindu man from India who was positively terrified about the moral future of his children in the UK because of the "Tony Blair morality," as he called it. The man referred to Blair wanting to lower the age of consensual sex in the UK to the age of 12. (Blair was turned back in this endeavor in the House of Lords at a vote which The Lady Margaret Thatcher personally attended.)
I said to Malcolm, "Even if England was all ethno-European, what kind of people would you be left with? Look at the debased women, the piercings and crazy hair. It is like my father used to say, 'It's the decent vs. the indecent.'"
We were walking about 13 miles every day. Ten would have been better for me, and the last few miles were always the hardest. They in fact turned what could have been an enjoyable day of hiking into a nightmare.
When the day ended, I went right to bed and slept for 12 straight hours. I did not even eat dinner or take one sip of water.
I was up early for the Eighth Day and finally I decided that I would use my time wisely. There wasn't much free time on the walk. You walked and walked and walked. You ate, you slept and bathed. That was it. The time to write in my journal was precious. I rarely used the Internet.
By now the honeymoon was over. This was work. This was like being in an army. The rain was gone. We were getting tan and strong and hard. We walked through the Thames Valley. We passed a church built in commemoration of the members of that particular congregation who died fighting in World War I.
Across the street was a cemetery in Wokingham filled with World War I soldiers.
One gravestone read:
1-20-18 (Jan. 20, which is my birthday)
Wounds from enemy shell
Corporal 2nd/4th Royal Berks
"I have fought the good fight"
There was a poem engraved in stone nearby.
They mingle not with the laughing comrades again.
They sit no more at familiar tables of home
They have no lot in our labours of the day time
They sleep beyond England's foam
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness
To the end, to the end, they remain.
We entered Virginia Water territory – Surrey. This is where the Magna Carta, perhaps the most important document guaranteeing human freedom ever created, was signed. It was sealed at Runnymead in A.D. 1215. The Magna Carta limited the "divine right of kings." This is something the transnational elite ruling the world today might want to remember. The Magna Carta has now been replaced by the European Charter. It is a sad thing. Martin Luther King said that many of the cherished ideals of human freedom came from Europe. Dr. King was right. What will happen to those ideals of true freedom in the future now that Christianity has been denied in the new European Charter?
On the Tenth Day, I walked mainly alone. I saw a magnificent park called "Deer Park" and it stretched out for many acres. I sat for a spell on a bench in the park. I had never before seen such a public place. It was well-manicured and peaceful. I ate at McDonalds. I met "Andy," a city worker who was sweating profusely while sweeping up the sidewalk.
I said, "Would you like some water?"
He replied, "Yes, please." He was very polite and that was refreshing.
I also gave Andy a chocolate bar. I had just bought it and already it was beginning to melt away. Little did I know that the greatest heatwave in the history of Europe was now setting upon us.
We were in the city of London now. I got lost in Brixton and walked six extra miles. Then I got lost on the highway and had to backtrack one mile. Without Malcolm and his maps I could not guarantee I would arrive at a destination on time – or at all.
Still, it was good to walk alone for a spell. I wanted to pray. I wanted to think about my parents. I was still grieving for them and I didn't want Malcolm to see me cry. He saw my tears from the pain I was in with my feet and right shinbone. During that little bit of walking I found someone's identity document and we mailed it back to him in the post.
I "slept" in a dumpy hotel, actually in the attic of a hotel, that night. It was so hot that I could barely sleep. By this time, nothing mattered. I'd walked 17 miles the day before. Food or no food, sleep or no sleep, I was undaunted. I was tan and turning into iron. Mentally and emotionally I was stronger than ever, but my feet kept getting worse. I thought perhaps I might have two days walking left in them, but no more.
I resolved to attack life the way I was attacking this walk.
On the Eleventh Day, we walked on the highway. The temperature on the highway due to the "heat islands" was well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At one point I almost tripped over weeds and fell into the path of a giant tractor-trailer truck, but the angels were with me. I had wanted to leave the highway just before that near mishap and I was furious with Malcolm for not listening to me, but it wasn't his fault. It was just bad luck, or was it rather good luck?
After that near mishap, we did leave the highway. En route we climbed over a cement overpass in a dangerous maneuver. As I said, by then we were toughened up so much that tanks and RPGs couldn't have stopped us.
Malcolm and I took a long break in which we ate heartily, drank beer and watched music videos. The Justin Timberlake remake of "Spirit in the Sky" was my favorite.
I had said before the walk, "I don't want anyone to show up on the last day, even if it's Cindy Crawford," but Cindy Crawford did show up – Malcolm's daughter, Bonni. His son Chaldon also came along on the Twelfth Day – the final day.
We had a lot of laughs, especially with the armpit-hair lady. We had a nickname for everyone it seemed.
We didn't even break for lunch, marching along the freeway, guzzling water by the gallons and eating chocolate bars. Bonni wore sandals and we had to get her feet taken care of because they were getting terribly raw, but she and Chaldon walked well.
Malcolm, in the biggest miracle since Lazarus was seen doing loop-de-loops over Jerusalem, missed the final turn off to Gravesend.
I said, "Samson!" and Malcolm stopped. "Where are you going?" I pointed to the Gravesend turn-off sign.
Malcolm's ankle was really bothering him. I think it always had been, but he had blocked out the pain mentally. Now that we were at the finish, he let down mentally and the pin in his ankle and the wear and tear were finally manifesting. When he looked at the turn-off sign, Malcolm had this look on his face like, "Oh man, how could I have missed that?" I saw it, I was right there. It was like my mother messing up cranberry sauce and stuffing on Thanksgiving or my father ordering the wrong amount of lumber for a carpentry job. It just couldn't possibly happen.
Yet it did happen in this final instance. It was bizarre – Malcolm missing a turn off and Anthony pointing the proper way to go. That is when I really saw the toll the walk took on poor Malcolm. Even Samson was human after all. Again, it was hell – pure hell. He is one tough man, but all of his marching in the South African Defense Force couldn't have prepared him for what we went through.
We finally reached Gravesend. It was the town where many of the bodies from the Black Death had been sent. That is why they call it Gravesend, because the last of the bodies were buried there.
I put up the last ribbon on a pole in the town square. Malcolm took a picture of that.
The walk was finally finished.
Malcolm Wren was a true hero and as such, the Afrikaners should be proud of him. Malcolm was given a trophy by a Boer group. He deserved 1,000 trophies for what he sacrificed on that walk, plus another hundred trophies or so for dealing with me. I was exhausted, moody, in horrific pain and worse things, like constantly asking the people we met if they knew Stephanie Underwood (a nice gal I met in Thailand back in 1999). I told everyone she was "the prettiest girl in the history of the British Empire." Malcolm couldn't believe it, but I asked every single person we encountered if they knew Stephanie.
Malcolm was my rock. He saw I was still grieving terribly over the death of my parents in the previous year. He was just so, so great, and what more can I say? When a writer is at a loss for words you know he or she has encountered something special. I only wish my parents could have met Malcolm.
My mother would have kissed his cheek and said, "Malcolm Wren, I am so proud of you! You are a trophy!"
My blisters were my trophy. I will always treasure them.
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Anthony C. LoBaido is a longtime contributor to WorldNetDaily.com. He now lives in St. Louis.