Omar Hoosen, initiator of the 1,000 Miles for Change campaign, said his journey on the road for the past three weeks has been a huge spiritual upliftment, as he found himself trying to connect with Allah on various levels. Hoosen left Parliament by foot on 15 October and was headed to Pretoria where he was hoping to personally hand over a memorandum to President Jacob Zuma, highlighting the social issues plaguing the country such as poverty, unemployment and inequality. By Friday evening Hoosen found himself about 15km outside George heading towards the Wilderness.
Hoosen has had to camp on the side of the road each night, something he found to be very safe to do. “I always find a good spot a little bit away from the road so that there’s no chance of anyone veering off the road and into my tent,” he said. “I always make a duah before I pitch up the tent. I ask Allah for protection and mercy over the tent.”
Hoosen said that so far he has not experienced any serious incidents, adding that he felt more safe sleeping on the side of the road than in come mosques that he’s been to. He said that he has had a lot of time to think and increase his spirituality. “It’s been very spiritually uplifting … I’ve been thinking of a lot of issues and been trying to connect with Allah,” said Hoosen. “It’s so easy now to see His blessings that He has given to us.”
He has also received many calls of well wishes along his journey. “A lot of people phone and they say they are making duah and it’s almost as if I can feel that duah and almost as if that duah is carrying me along. It’s been a very, very spiritually conscientising experience.”
Of the three weeks that he has been on the road, the first two were spent trying to reach a certain level. “The first two weeks were more about getting into the swing of things and getting myself up to a level where I could take on 40 to 50 km a day,” explained Hoosen. “In the past week I’ve done about 35km and 40 km a day very comfortably.” He is expected to reach Durban in four weeks, and was waiting on word from the Presidency to say when Zuma would be available to receive the memorandum.
To be able to walk such a great distance, Hoosen alternated between a pair of hiking boots and takkies. “Firstly I don’t want to wear out one pair of shoes and secondly to give my feet a little bit of a break because you get hot spots and pressure points that builds up if you have one pair of shoes,” he said.
Hoosen said he has become “friends” with some of the regular users of the road he was currently walking along. “I’ve had people that are going the other way that turn around to ask me where I’m going because those are people that normally travel the road,” he said. “I seem to have made quite a few friends with the truck drivers. So they just hoot and wave when they see me now.”
Hoosen said that among the motivational messages he had received some were from cabinet ministers. “The new deputy minister of home affairs, Fatima Ismail Chohan-Khota, smsed me and Marius Fransman (deputy minister of the department of international relations and co-operation) sent me quite a motivational message. I think I’ve made an impact in cabinet but I’m just hoping to make a little bit more of an impact on grassroots.”
Follow Hoosen’s journey on Facebook.