CARLOS DA CRUZ -
AND ANIMAL SCULPTOR
1931 - MAY 17TH, 2006
Coastweek - - Carlos da Cruz
was no ordinary human being, and when he died his death robbed us of
an exceptional being.
His exit, albeit
expected, left a permanent void in our lives.
He was a
physically powerful man, who exuded warmth, friendship charisma and
an aura of invincibility.
Yet, after four
months and eleven days in a comatose condition, he lost the will to
go on fighting for his life.
He died in the
province of Murcia, Lorca, Spain at 9.30 a.m. on May 17th.
Carlos da Cruz
was born and educated in Mombasa.
In 1950 while
still in his teens, he first worked at the British Army's Post
Office at MacKinnon Road.
From there he was
transferred to the Treasury Square Post Office in Mombasa where he
served the colonial administration for 16 years.
Those were great
years for those of our generation who loved the outdoors, hunting
meant a trip to Kilibasi, Kuranze or the Rukinga and Kasigau Hills.
Big game hunting
was taken up with great enthusiasm and zeal.
Coastweek - - A young Carlos da
Cruz plays with a 'domesticated' leopard.
Many of those who
belonged to our circle of friends were attracted to Carlos for his
conversational gifts, a wonderful raconteur and avid reader who
could expound on anything with authority.
environs, and especially the Taru Desert, Carlos became fascinated
with the hunter and gatherer tribe of Waliangulu (Watha) who worked
In those days,
there was Sadiki and Dana, much later came Guyo Dadi and in his
final years as a professional hunter, Diwani, Neko and Abajila were
his only companions in the bush.
Carlos became a
full professional hunter in 1967 gaining sponsorship to the East
African Professional Hunters' Association through Captain Denis
Zaphiro and professional hunter, Ian MacDonald.
He joined the
firm of Wananchi Game, which was run by Herman Steyn in Nairobi.
envious position in a much-sought-after profession, he never forgot
his former friends.
instrumental in removing hunting restrictions on the late Myles
Burton, Tibor Gaal, Gulam Mirdat and honorary warden Bayan Mohamed.
There were many
more, who profited from his expertise and bush lore, which was
readily offered to those who wished to learn from him.
absolutely non-materialistic, and a person of the highest integrity.
Tony Dyer as well
as Reggie Destro, the doyen of the East African Professional
Hunters' Association, held Carlos in very high esteem.
attitude to wealth and fame could always be summed up in the words
of the Persian Sufi, Saadi, who said:
"Whoever is a
stranger to wealth, fame and power, He is a friend to all."
By 1971 Carlos
had formed his own big game safari company, African Bushtrails,
Ltd., and was utilising the services of other professional hunters
to guide and hunt for his safari company.
celebrities and the wealthy from Saudi Arabia, Germany, Austria,
France and the United States.
His company was
one of the first to produce a full-length feature film on the
natural history of the African elephant for the Japanese TV Company,
Carlos had hunted
all over East Africa, including the Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
imposed a ban on Hunting in 1977 without any advance warning many
hunting companies were affected and Carlos was among those who
perhaps suffered the most in terms of his investments.
For a short
period he worked as a photographic safari guide for Lindblad, but
his heart was not in this type of work.
A little later,
he and I built Samburu Safari Lodge, but being adventurous souls,
the sedentary life of a lodge owner and manager was too confining
and we eventually sold our shares and moved on.
Today, the lodge
he and I started is one of the most successful - the Samburu Serena
By 1980, it
became apparent that our entire way of life was forever gone.
and ex-wardens who had pioneered in the creation of Kenya as the
safari capital of the world chose to leave for other countries.
Coastweek - - Carlos da
bronze sculpture of a
Coastweek - - Carlos da
bronze sculpture of a
Some went to
Southern Africa, namely Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa
yet others chose to settle in the U.S. or moved to England or
It was difficult
to get started in any field that was not wildlife-related in a
foreign country, and the knowledge that one was no longer young
posed numerous uncertainties and challenges.
It was also at
this time when Carlos developed a neurological condition of the
cervical which through a surgical error at a Nairobi hospital, was
to plague him for the rest of his life.
multi-talented and even before he left Kenya for England, he
occupied himself working as a sculptor and also at writing
adventurous tales relevant to his hunting experiences.
While in England
he started using the Morris Singer Foundry in Basingstoke.
chasing, welding and polishing the finished product by
foundry-workers, who knew nothing about animal anatomy, Carlos went
to work in Milton Keynes at Mike Davis's foundry.
In less than two
years he had mastered the entire process involving bronze casting
and all its intricate procedures.
He then studied
the techniques of Eduard Lanteri, the Italian master who had
formulated the techniques of converting miniatures into monumental
Although a master
of realism, Carlos's work did not sell well.
membership in England's Society of Wildlife Artists and the moral
support from friends like Keith Shackleton, it was his former
hunting clients who purchased most of his pieces.
Carlos was never
happy in England.
outdoorsman he felt like a fish out of water.
He needed the
wide-open spaces and the call of Africa continued to lure him back
On his visits to
Kenya he would spend a lot of his time at Voi with his Walingulu
professional hunters who had utilised the Waliangulu's tracking
expertise had abandoned the Waliangulu.
Carlos set out to
teach them to grow citrus fruits and bee keeping by building
apiaries at Kajire, near Voi.
He sought the
help of the local administration and a minister to make the
Walinagulu self-sufficient and to give them a life of respect and
Never one to
dally in superficialities, Carlos started an in-depth study on the
origins of the Waliangulu and to write about their Cushitic origins.
He spent almost
two decades writing and collating information on the Waliangulu in
the hope of ultimately publishing a book that would be the
definitive work on the Waliangulu.
From the time he
left Kenya in 1980 to the time of his death, Carlos made three
visits to Kenya.
concerns were his friends the Waliangulu, for all those who had made
pledges to help and to give this almost extinct tribe a new lease of
life none had kept his promise.
I last met Carlos
in 1994 in Madrid.
We shared three
wonderful days by visiting many of Ernest Hemingway's old haunts,
ate Tapas, drank sangria, and wondered through the Prado Museum.
We discussed the
pros and cons of bullfights and the corrida, the Spanish Civil War,
and many aspects of Hemingway's writings.
I was then on my
way to Antarctica.
In 1998, he and
his family retired to Lorca in Spain.
Long before he
left England, he was involved in a number of creative projects,
which included sculpture, writing an epic autobiographical adventure
story, applied hydroponics, bonsai and making hand crafted classical
When he settled
in Lorca he continued with these pursuits.
He also continued
to long for Africa and to hope that one day his end will come in the
land where he was born.
He and I
communicated by telephone and email, but we were never destined to
survived by his wife, Angela, his son, Fernando, daughter, Melena,
and two grand children.
He also leaves
behind an older brother, Candid, younger brother Rui and his sister,
He has left three
unpublished manuscripts, numerous moulds for bronze casting and
several acoustic guitars that would be the envy of Jose Ramirez or
any Guitar maestro from the Spanish School involved in making such
stringed instruments !
intends to scatter his ashes in the Taru Desert in the near future.
this exceptional friend and comrade I cannot help recalling the
words of John Donne who said :
"No man is an
Iland, intire of it selfe;
every man is a
peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod be
washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse,
As well as if a
promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or thine
any mans death
diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde;
never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee."
United States of America.